Robin Williams and What We Can Learn

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As many are aware by now, the legendary Robin Williams took his life Monday morning on August 11th. Grim, heart-wrenching details surfaced regarding the nature of his suicide, but we are here today to focus on the morals we can take from his story. Depression is bound to affect everyone at some point or another. Before you journey down a difficult road littered with debilitating symptoms, read ahead for ways to safeguard yourself against depression.

Assess Your Feelings

The severity of presenting depression symptoms should be examined for an effective solution. This is typical protocol of many general mental health facilities scattered across the country: You assess the problem, then develop a service plan. Likewise, try to determine where you stand in the process. And seek professional counseling if need be.

Confide in Someone

The first step is to speak up. Sure, it’s cliche, but shame absolutely hides in secrecy. And how ironic is it that depression affects so many lives, yet we’re ashamed to talk about it? You can take one of two routes: Grab a friend or a trustworthy family member or lean on professional help, such as a therapist or psychiatrist. Determine what works best for you, and speak your truth.

Journal

Make it a habit to write how you feel, especially if you can’t find someone to speak with. Journaling not only allows for a space to express how you feel, it also tracks progress. Who knows? Maybe once you’re feeling better and more positive, you can reflect on how far you’ve come.

Share Your Story

A little bit of empathy goes a long ways. What you’re experiencing could be very similar to someone else’s struggles. Take a bold, courageous step by sharing your story and take note of the impact you have on others.

 

Your Cheat Sheet to House Hunting

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News flash: We found a house!!! My boyfriend and I are tickled and delighted to sign the lease next week. As if that’s not exciting enough, I don’t have homework for the next TWO WEEKS! Hooray!

Over the weekend, we had time to catch up with friends, which was nice. Friday night began with my best friend’s birthday at this new club in Murfreesboro called Tempt. And for this club to be in Murfreesboro I’ve gotta admit, the place is pretty snazzy. Then, my friend Caitlin and I ventured towards Nashville to catch Keegan’s c.d. release show. What a blast!! It felt refreshing to catch up with our Murfreesboro and Nashville friends in one evening.

The following afternoon, I grabbed lunch with Marissa, then sushi that night with another group of friends. We rounded out the evening with a trip to Tika’s apartment, followed by drinks with my friend Sadie in Nashville on Sunday. Needless to say, I refuse to take for granted the free time bestowed upon me.

So anyhoo, back to house hunting.

I’m providing readers with questions to consider when moving. We jumped the gun last year with essentially no questions to ask, only to realize certain aspects of the house really sucked.  Hence, we found a new place to live. Read ahead and feel free to print out this cheat sheet as a “go to guide” when reviewing a house or an apartment.

Disclaimer: Many of these questions are applicable for renting a property, but this list can still assist with those of you looking to land a mortgage.

House Hunting Questionnaire 

Has anyone else applied for this property?

How long do we have to make a decision?

What do you need from us so we can qualify for this house?

Are pets allowed?

Is smoking only allowed outside?

How bad is the crime in this neighborhood?

How much is the rent?

How old is this property?

Can you provide details concerning the history of this home?

What’s the size of the house? Square feet?

How long is the extent of the lease? Six months? A year?

Can we go month to month after the first year?

How many bedrooms and bathrooms?

Where are the property lines?

Are we allowed to garden directly in the ground?

Am I responsible for mowing the yard?

Are utilities included?

How many days do we have to pay rent?

When and how should rent be paid?

How much is the deposit?

How many days notice should we give when moving out?

How is the internet signal? Strong or weak?

Any water leaks?

Flood damage?

Black mold issues?

Electrical problems?

Central heat and air versus AC units and space heaters?

Has the house ever been renovated or received add-ons, such as an extra bedroom, guest room or garage?

What sort of amenities are included?

Are any bills included? Such as water, electric, gas, etc.

Is the house furnished?

Is a refrigerator and stove provided with the house?

Do the doors lock?

Windows open?

Is the house equipped with a security alarm system?

Does the shower work?

Is the bathtub in good shape?

How many closets come with the house?

Is any other storage space available?

Can we paint the interior walls?

Who’s responsible for patching small tact holes in the walls when moving out?

 

 

So there ya go folks! You can print this list and highlight whatever relevant questions apply to your situation. Feel free to respond with a comment if you think of other questions worth asking during the house hunting process.

How to Keep Pushing Forward When You’re Tired

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In case you haven’t noticed, many of these posts and titles stem from what I’m currently experiencing. It’s Wednesday afternoon and quite frankly, I’m exhausted. After waking up at 5:00 a.m. to help my boyfriend guide his kindergartners (and their parents) on the first day of school, seems like it’s time to take a nap. But no, I have a community pot-luck to organize with residents scattered across 8 properties, a Behavioral Intervention Process to draft and implement, plus a forum to solidify so we can begin hosting monthly Resident’s Community Association Meetings. And this itinerary doesn’t even include my day to day responsibilities as a SOAR Program Coordinator. Phew!

As if that’s not bad enough, my final is due Friday, and I still have yet to complete my discussion questions for this graduate research course. 2 friends have birthdays this week, 8 total for this month (so many August birthdays) AND we still need to pack for the upcoming move.

If your schedule is anything like mine, read ahead for ways to sustain your energy.

Watch What You Eat

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Aside from the fact that skipping breakfast kills your metabolism, it depletes your energy as well. Reader’s Digest offers energizing breakfast ideas, while WebMD suggests increasing your fiber intake for better, sustainable energy. Other obvious suggestions include eating snacks throughout the day and staying hydrated. If you’re sick of drinking water, try Yerba Mate. The versatility of this “wonder drink” will leave you feeling revitalized. I always feel a sense of mental clarity after sipping a cup of Yerba in the mornings.

Stretch

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Don’t feel guilty if you need a five minute break to recoup, especially if you’re working a desk job. Overtime we tend to hunch and turn in towards ourselves. Take a moment to stretch your arms above your head into the victorious V pose. OR try this yoga position called the Reclining Open Chest Pose if you have a quiet, comfortable space to do so. Ironically enough, taking a moment to relax can ultimately help you focus and remain alert.

Sniff Citrus

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As a firm believer in aromatherapy, inhaling particular fragrances for optimal energy levels is a fool-proof tactic for me to feel my best. I strongly recommend citrus scents such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and tangerines to revitalize your spirit. For more information regarding aromatherapy, follow this link.

Aim for Better Rest

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Maybe you’re tired, because your sleep is interrupted? Here’s a few pointers: Become familiar with your body clock, aka, your Circadian Biological Clock. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Develop a bedtime routine and stick with the same bed-time each night, if possible. Or click here for additional tips regarding better sleep.

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.