How to Think Positive

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Long time, no post. Life took over, and before I knew it, we’re planning a move, beginning new jobs and taking on a new dog. I wasn’t used to commuting in the least bit, but this recent opportunity to engage in Urban Social Work was a chance I couldn’t refuse.

Between working full-time, commuting, studying and planning weekend excursions, the last thing I’ve made time to do is blog. In fact, this is probably the longest I’ve gone without posting; shame on me.

But anyways.

Today’s post embellishes on techniques to stay satisfied with your overall quality of life. Read ahead for unique ideas besides your typical “Eat well, breathe deep and relax” proposals.

Set the Alarm to Your Favorite Song

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What better way to wake up than to leap out of bed with uncompromising enthusiasm? Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch. But research point to the beginning of the day seeming the most stressful for the majority of adults. Let’s think of ways to nip this in the bud.

- Wake up to awesome music.

- Schedule time with your pets before work (Umm, hello endorphins)

Create your own morning ritual.

To brace myself for the morning commute, I cook a hot meal. This gives me time to wake up and something to look forward to before work. Listening to TED Talks also help me stay focused and positive first thing in the morning.

Challenge Negative Thoughts

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Let’s face it: If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you Googled something like “How to be Happy” or “How to Keep a Positive Attitude”. A lot of times, it’s not necessarily a lack of happiness preventing us from feeling our best; it’s the cycle of negative thinking.

The next time you think, “God, I don’t want to wake up, WHY do I have to work so early!?”, re-frame this sentiment. Yes, it’s cliche, but purposefully seeking out the positives in a bleak situation ought to propel you in the right direction. As Brene Brown so eloquently insisted, “Talk to yourself like you would someone you love”.

Schedule Play Time

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In a world full of meetings, deadlines and other stressful scenarios, we plan every bit of our day except the things that really matter. When’s the last time you scheduled time specifically dedicated for your pets? Or your children? Or significant other? Whatever the case may be, plan your free-time just as you would schedule anything else. If your lifestyle is anything like mine, it’s appropriate to consciously clear your afternoon for free-time; and honestly, we all deserve it.

This is the time to focus on the positives, process what’s happened and to revitalize your energy.

Reconstruct and Repeat

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I could never outline every possible suggestion or idea on how to be happy in such a short post. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Aint nobody got the whereabouts as to what makes every human being happy in his or her own unique way. All I can say is, figure out what works for you and do that!

Most of us are smart enough to know what makes us happy and what doesn’t. If you’re struggling with determining your special interests or hobbies, leave a comment below, and we can work through this together. Make a conclusive effort to rationalize what’s holding you back from becoming the absolute most positive individual that you were destined to become.  Reconstruct your attitude, think positive, then repeat.

Usually a lack of gratitude compounded with a seemingly lack of time to engage in the positive thinking process leads to a negative attitude. For additional information on how to neurologically create a more positive attitude, click here. Otherwise, have a wonderful week!

Your Friend is Dating a Douche: Now What?

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One of the most difficult situations to approach with caution involves your friend’s significant other. She’s introduced you to him, but something doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe you don’t click or his arrogant attitude rubs you the wrong way. Whatever the case may be, read ahead for advice which could salvage your friendship.

Get to Know Him

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Before jumping to any rash conclusions, give the guy a chance. Focus on the positives by consciously picking out the attributes and characteristics you enjoy about this person. Abraham Lincoln righteously proclaimed, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends”, which is a constructive, feasible mindset worth considering.

Try your best to find common ground. At the very least, you both think highly of the same friend that introduced you in the first place. If you’ve already given this guy multiple chances, proceed with step two.

Keep it Short and Sweet

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No one says you have to like this guy, but making efforts on your end appears more favorable. It’s okay to decide that you just don’t like him. When faced with inevitable awkward encounters, keep it short and sweet. Don’t speak out of anger; Find ways to lighten up.

A client once told me,”When I feel anxious, I search for humor in the situation”. So likewise, imagine yourself from a third person perspective. What sort of impression or vibes are you emanating? Do you seem tense? Upset? Jittery? On edge? Now ask yourself: Are you acting like the type of person you would want to be around?

Sometimes we have to face people that we flat out despise. But remember to keep it short and sweet, then walk away with class.

Facetious Versus Vehement

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There’s a difference between your disparaging opinion of someone and their bullying behavior towards your friend. We’re talking opinions versus facts, perceptions versus reality. Use your discretion to determine why you don’t like him: Could it be that his emphatic attitude comes across as narcissistic or is this individual emotionally and/or physically harming your friend?

At the core of my being, I always trust my gut. By contrary, the internet offers numerous websites specifying domestic violence symptoms for those unfamiliar with this far-reaching epidemic. Refer to this guide as a handy resource if your friend’s current relationship leaves you feeling ambivalent.

Fight or Flight?

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If the problematic situation continues to cause a rift in your friendship, it’s time to reevaluate. How important is this friend to you? Is she worth sticking around for? By no means am I encouraging readers to ditch someone that needs their help escaping a tumultuous relationship; nor would I indicate that you just “let him win”, but at some point, it’s okay to let go. As long as the relationship isn’t detrimental, live and let live.

Before you throw in the towel, have a major heart to heart with your friend. This can be tricky, because showing too much disfavor may cause her to not trust you, ultimately leading her to withholding information. Approach the subject with caution and speak to her the way you would like to be addressed by referring to empathetic tactics.

In the end, you decide how to act in fight or flight mode. You can fight for your friend, fight with her boyfriend or avoid the situation all together. Just remember: Whether or not you make a choice, you’re still making a choice. And on that note, we end with Rush performing Freewill live at Toronto Rocks in 2003.

The Most Decadent Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup Ever (With Triple Cheese Blend)

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Long time, no recipe. I try to eat well, but every now and then, I crave comfort food. Plus I needed a way to rid the fridge of several cheeses at once. Hence, Broccoli Triple Cheese Potato Soup it is.

What You Need:

1/2 pound Red Potatoes, rinsed

1 Broccoli Crown

1/4 Red Onion

1 Can Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup and milk to dilute

1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar

1/2 Cup Goat Cheese

2 Slices of Aged Swiss

1/2 Cup White Wine

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

First, rinse and chop Red Potatoes. I cut mine very small, so I can fit potato and broccoli all in one bite. Chop the Broccoli leaving only florets to go in soup, and chop the onion fine. Turn on stove top to heat pan.

Next, add a small bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the hot pan. Toss the Potatoes, Broccoli and Onions to ensure they’re coated, then added 1/4 cup of the white wine to the veggies. (And save the remaining white wine for the soup.) Cook for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat with lid.

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While the veggies roast, turn on another eye for the soup. Add Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup with a can of milk and stir compassionately. Add Shredded Cheddar and Goat Cheese, mix well. Then, pick apart the Aged Swiss Slices to toss in the soup and mix. Add remaining White Wine and allow to bubble on low. Cook the soup for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Turn it down once all ingredients are accounted for to prevent burning.

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Once the veggies have charred, add them to the soup and top with whichever cheese you would like (I added more Cheddar and Goat Cheese Crumbles.) And that’s it! The easiest and cheesiest soup ever. You’re welcome.

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On a side note, I hope everyone enjoys their 4th of July this weekend! We plan to drop by a few parties (4 of my friends have birthdays this week) and can’t wait to play with fireworks. Am-er-i-ca, fuck yea.

How to Excel at Your New Job

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Guess who landed a new Social Work Position recently? Meee. I’ve scoured the job market for months, and finally, the perfect position presented itself.

Life has recently become slightly chaotic as the new SOAR Program Coordinator for a housing agency in East Nashville, while our new dog, Buddy, is recovering from his shots, and two of my closest friends depart for Fort Collins next week.

I’m looking forward to learning the ropes at work, completing copious amounts of homework and planning for quickly-approaching vacations. In the mean time, continue to scroll for the links with insightful information regarding your first few days at work.

 

How to Ace Your New Job in the First 90 Days

How to Succeed in Your First Job

 Kick Ass From Day One in Your New Job

If you have any tips to add, let me know. This particular posts lacks the sustenance I typically try to provide, but honestly I’m exhausted and other priorities have surfaced at this time.

Hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend. And do yourself a favor: Listen to Tycho, because your soul deserves it.

 

Healthy, Holistic Benefits of Camping

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Most of us enjoy the outdoors for recreational reasons, but did you know camping features holistic remedies for stress? If you’re hesitant to “rough it” for the weekend, learn how to take advantage of your outdoor experience which might end up changing your mind. We will take this approach by considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

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Physiological

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At the very basic level, humans need food, water, shelter, sleep, etc. to survive as a species. Camping offers healthier cooking options by allowing campers to grill the majority of their food. If you’re munching on S’mores the entire trip, you might begin to feel sluggish and depleted of nutrients. Instead, take this opportunity to be in touch with your primitive side. Fish if you’re able to, and bring fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds from the house.

Also consider the circadian time shift. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes following an approximate 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Once you sleep outside overnight for 3 days, research suggests your body’s internal clock reverts to waking up earlier and going to bed at a reasonable hour, which ultimately leaves you feeling refreshed.

Safety

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We suffered a major thunderstorm on our camping trip a few days ago. Luckily we checked the weather prior to plan accordingly.

Aside from feeling financially secure, Maslow’s findings reveal how camping can contribute to your resiliency. I’m not encouraging readers to camp in shitty weather, but if you’re up to the challenge, dive in (Just don’t compromise your safety!). We used a tarp underneath our tent plus a rain guard and drug our pop-up canopy over the tent for additional protection.

New challenges develop and promote problem solving skills, and for this reason, we commend camping.

Love/Belonging

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Let’s face it: Camping brings people together. From putting up the tent to preparing meals and loading the canoe carefully, damn near every activity requires a team effort.

Maslow pointed out how a sense of love and belonging becomes critical in meeting the next step, Esteem. Even the television show Naked and Afraid embellishes on the significance of developing personal relationships with peers to complete seemingly impossible missions. Camping offers the perfect venue to strengthen connections which encourages everyone’s participation. Gathered Again outlines tips for how to plan the perfect family reunion.

Esteem

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Now’s the time to flex your muscles. Camping could boost your self-esteem by leading you to practice those problem-solving skills we discussed earlier. Blame it on a slight case of biophilia, but my soul and self-esteem depend on the outdoors.

Green Exercise has been known to boost self-esteem. Camping falls in this realm. Be it hiking, kayaking, or merely setting up the firewood, any form of outdoor exercise is bound to lighten your mood. Check out Psychology Today’s report which explains why exercise matters.

Self-actualization

bobennettOnce you become a camping pro, the sky’s the limit. You’re perfectly capable of hiking that extra mile, backpacking without electricity and challenging yourself to expand your outdoor knowledge. Nature exposes us to our flaws when our tents flood and our victories when shelter keeps us dry. Practice what you know and master the art of camping. Feel free to review this link with additional camping health benefits. Or leave a comment if you would like to share a camping narrative.

 

4 Facts You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Your Cat

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Love ‘em or hate ‘em, cats possess an air of entitlement leading some to revere their pets while others opt for dogs instead. The crazy cat lady stigma once permeated the forefront of feline culture but begun to fade as more men brazenly adopt cats. Pompous hipsters swooped in like desperate trendsetters ready to break away from the norm where formally it was cool to hate cats and suddenly, cats have accounted for 15% of all internet traffic. This tendency towards felines is here to stay.

As a responsible pet owner, it’s your duty to study the psychology of cat behaviors. Read ahead for facts you may not know about your feline friend.

Kittens Sleep To Grow

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Kittens tend to sleep more than usual as a growth hormone releases during their rest. The Cat Health Guide also indicates cats need more rest as adults to conserve energy for hunting periods. Overall, cats notable spend nearly 2/3 of their lives resting. If only humans could do the same.

How Your Cat Owns You

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Have you ever noticed a time when you’re slaving over the stove and your cat saunters over to run against your ankles? He or she is likely claiming you as territory by leaving their distinct scent on you. These pheromones send a signal to other “predators” (such as the dog or other cats) that you’re taken.

Cats Suffer From Dermatitis, Too

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Random, but funny

While humans occasionally cope with skin problems such as eczema, cats deal with Dermatitis when they just so happen to be allergic to flea bites. WebMD for Pets covers symptoms including small crusts, bumps, and raw patches of skin, and hair loss due to licking and scratching. If your cat appears finicky and uncomfortable, take your precious to the vet asap.

The Infamous Cat Butt in Your Face

Or is it?

Or is it?

Little did I know until recently that cats put their bums in your viewing vicinity just as we greet our best friends with a hug: By placing themselves in a vulnerable position, the pheromones secrete a scent near the base of their tale for other cats to determine if the cat is approachable and friendly. So consider it a compliment if a cat exposes his rear to you; this confusing display of affection need not be dismissed as a disrespectful behavior.

Let’s Catch Up

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Between two weddings and a music festival in Alabama on the coast, last month felt like a blur. My blog suffers neglect but planning on writing more in the next few days. Summer classes start today, too, so it’s time to thrust myself into the writing realms again.

In the meantime, here’s a few photos covering the last several weeks of my life. If you need advice concerning anything specific, please feel free to comment with suggestions towards the bottom.

And did I mention we adopted a dog!? Let’s just say this: He’s a 6 year old cutie patootie, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

 

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Brittany and Justin’s wedding

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Petting Zoo in East Tennessee

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Orange Beach, Alabama

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Hangout Fest 2014

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Our new beagle mix named Buddy

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Memorial Day Barbeque

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BBQ

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Handmade Bouquets for Tara’s Wedding

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Boro Bar and Grill for Keegan’s show

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Tara’s Wedding

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The Vineyards with the girls

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Family Reunion: Nashville's Annual EDM Picnic at Centennial Park

Family Reunion: Nashville’s Annual EDM Picnic at Centennial Park

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Top 10 Festivalgoer Tips

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Festival season is upon us, and I can proudly proclaim that Hangout Fest was my 10th adventure. So after attending 10 festivals, let me share with you a few important tips:

 

Pack Lightly

When space is limited, don’t pack what you can live without. As someone recently embracing a minimalist lifestyle, I can promise you, you will appreciate a lighter load once you arrive to the festival. The less you pack, the less you have to worry about losing and misplacing.

Review the Schedule

It’s good to know the order of the shows so you can guesstimate when to arrive and when to leave for another act. Ask your friends which shows they plan to catch so you can coordinate potty breaks in between.

Stand Out

It’s inevitable: At some point, you will see a show by yourself. Maybe your friends don’t like Jack Johnson or you want to skip Mumford and Sons. Either way, wear something that stands out so you can find each other in the crowd later. I made an alien totem pole one year so friends could find me from far away. BUT make sure the festival you’re attending allows totem poles before creating one!

Reach Out

When you’re by yourself, don’t be afraid to chit chat with those standing and sitting around you. Chances are, everyone’s friendly, and at the very least, discussing the act you’re waiting on makes for a good focal point.

Share

In an effort to lighten my load throughout the day, I’ll share snacks. I usually pack too much food and water. Festivals foster a sense of community; do your part by contributing to those that are new to the scene or might have shown up unprepared. A generous attitude always leads to stronger connections.

Hydrate

Drink as much water as possible. And beer, lots of beer. But for God’s sake, stay hydrated. I drink a full liter before heading to the first show, because it makes me feel good and puts me in a chipper mood.

Sanitize Hands

Bring your own sanitizer to the festival, since the dispensers usually run out the first night. And on that note, definitely bring your own roll of toilet paper.

Bring a Jacket

Even though most festivals take place in the summer, the nights remains chilly. I’m all about the mom shorts and tank tops, but do yourself a favor and pack a light jacket just in case.

Forget Your Phone

The least appealing thing someone can do on vacation is to fixate on their phone. This indicates you haven’t fully disconnected from the “real world” and isn’t that the point? I love setting my phone on airplane mode for 3 solid days and only taking necessary photos.

We’re all guilty of taking a few selfies occasionally, but snapping picture after picture of yourself looks like a sad, desperate plea for attention. Narcissism isn’t attractive, and you’re certainly not living in the moment when you’re wrapped up in your phone, bragging to everyone at home. If I was performing in front of 80,000 people, I would appreciate those engaging in the music and the moment versus those recording the entire show. Bottom line is, it’s a courtesy gesture.

Don’t be “That Guy”

Whether you’re drinking, smoking, or trippin balls, take it easy. You don’t want to be that guy I noticed at the Bonnaroo medical tent last year, teething on a wash cloth to prevent his teeth from grinding. Pace yourself and remember: This is the only body you have, so treat it right!

If you have any other tips, feel free to speak up. I’m sharing a few photos from Hangout, but if you would like to add me on Facebook, you can view the rest there.

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Had to get one photo of my favorite dj. I’ve caught him live 4x but this was by far the craziest show.

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Hanging out in the beach access area of hangout

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Matthew always stands out lol

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Anna Nicole Smith came to party with us. She helped us find each other in the crowd.

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Sooo many people leaving the Chevrolet Stage with the ocean in the background.