I Hand You My Vulnerability

Tonight, I start to hand you my vulnerability. You get to see my joy, my wonder, my curiosity, and my melancholy. Please do not take this lightly when I hand you this. It took me years to read my poetry to my closest friends. The majority of my friends even now are still naive to the fact that I’ve been writing poetry for a couple years. I’m not saying it’s good, I’m not saying it’s shit, but I’m saying that I’m going to share it with you.

Every once and a while I might post a poem. I promised a friend I would share them and this is how I’m going to do it.

Peace and love,

Amanda

College Stress Sucks Eggs

GRUMPYou’re a college kid, so you’re bound to get stressed every once in a while or basically all the time. Maybe you have two midterms this week, you’ve got a huge paper due tomorrow, there’s a Mt. Everest of dishes in your sink, and you can’t seem to find a pair of matching socks to save your life because you haven’t done laundry in weeks. Or maybe it’s just Monday tomorrow and Mondays suck. Well, you’re not alone. All college students go through these motions. The great thing about stress is that there are ways to manage it!

The first step in stress management, in my opinion, is to acknowledge your feelings. Sometimes stress can be an accumulation of feelings. Are you overwhelmed with the amount of things you have to do, are you frustrated that your exam got moved to an earlier date, are you sad because of a breakup? There’s this assumption that in college you will be happy and healthy the entire time you’re in classes, but in reality, life happens, and not everything is rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes you just need to take it one day at a time, and that’s completely okay. Here are some things you can do to improve your day and reduce stress:

  1. Meditate – The best way you can start your day is by sitting down and meditating. Some people think of it as a very hippy-dippy thing to do, but trust me when I say it’s worth a try. You don’t need to have dreadlocks, wear a tie-dye t-shirt, and go barefoot to get the full experience of meditation. If you’re new to meditation, start by meditating for 10 minutes and gradually move up to 20 minutes. Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, wake you up, make you be a better driver, and last longer in bed (hehe). I’ve listed some great references to support you in your journey into the zen life:
  2. Make yourself a nice breakfast to treat yo’ self – But I don’t just mean eat a nice breakfast, I want you to experience your breakfast. Put your gluten free 2-ingredient pancake on the nicest plate you have (even if it’s just stolen from your dorm’s dinning hall oops), take slow mindful bites of your breakfast to really taste your food, and sit down while you’re eating. You start your day on a high note when you’re fully nourished.
  3. Journal – Sometimes writing everything down is all you need to clear your head. You physically take everything fogging up that big brain of yours and put it down on paper. I don’t know if there’s any science behind this, but there should be because it’s a miracle medicine for figuring out your shit. I like to start with writing down all the things I’ve done that day and usually my mind progresses to other things like how fucking annoying Becky was that day (just kidding, I don’t know anyone named Becky. If I did, not to be prejudice against all the Beckys out there, but I bet she’d be really annoying). If you can’t think of anything you did that day, or you just laid in bed all day and ate cereal out of the box because life, write a nice list of all the things you are grateful for in this big, disastrously beautiful world of ours or write about the last time you laughed really hard. Trust me, it will put a smile on your face. 
    IMG_2504
    [fresh mint tea]
  4. Make a HUGE cup of tea (emphasis on the huge) – Tea is my life. Sometimes I think it would be more efficient for my body to flow tea through my veins instead of blood, but then I realize that would probably kill me because science blah blah. Anyways, tea stands to be my biggest go-to for when I’m stressed. There are studies that show that holding a cup of tea gives you the same oxytocin release that you get from receiving a hug. Oxytocin is the lovey-dovey hormone that combats the stress hormone cortisol. So if you’re stressed, just hold a warm cup of tea in your hands and let the coziness effect set in. Here are a few teas I’ve tried that directly address stress:
    • St. Johns Wort – The first time I ever had this tea, my mother gave it to me. I was PMSing like there was an apocalypse occurring on Earth and I had stubbed my toe all at once, so she handed a tea bag to me of St. Johns Wort. She stated, “Drink this, it’s what menopausal women drink”. So I may not be going through menopause, but it sure did calm me down. [disclaimer – not recommended to anyone taking birth control or any other form of hormonal medication. This tea is meant for balancing hormones and that’s the opposite of what you want when you’re taking birth control or hormonal medication. Please don’t risk getting pregnant just to de-stress]
    • Holy Basil – This natural antidepressant is great when you have long term stress or depression. It may take a few cups over a couple weeks for the effect to set in, but drinking a cup is extremely worth it. If you’re feeling fancy, you can get it in a tincture from your local health store to add to your smoothie bowls.
    • Chamomile or Mint – These teas are your classic teas for de-stressing. They can be found at any grocery store in the tea isle. These teas are perfect for right before bed, when you want something to soothe you to sleep.
  5. Lovely Sunshine and Endorphins – Even if the only energy you can muster up is to just walk around the block, do it. We underestimate how important it is to get your daily vitamin D. According to a Scientific American article, three-quarters of United States is deficient in vitamin D. Just a week after I started taking a vitamin D supplement, I started to feel happier and healthier. So, getting your vitamin D, while getting in some light exercise can significantly lower your stress-levels. I swear if I didn’t get my daily dose of endorphins, I would be a mess. Getting in exercise in the morning is great if you want a little extra energy for that day. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “How can feeling like death will working out energize you?!”. Well, if your body is working properly, it does.
    IMG_3157
    [Dear Mother, it’s actually grape juice I swear]
  6. Bubble Bath time – Okay, if all was right in the world there wouldn’t be a severe drought in California and we would all own claw-footed bath tubs, but sadly this dream of mine has yet to become a reality. If you live in an area where water scarcity is not an issue and you luckily own a bathtub, then I recommend you take a long, warm bath filled with chamomile, epsom salts (very inexpensive at most grocery stores), and any essential oil of your choosing (mine is eucalyptus, because lavender can be a skin irritant). Make sure to stay hydrated while taking an a bath with epsom salts because epsom salts will detox and dehydrate your body. We don’t want any of y’all passing out from dehydration mid-bathtime. Now, if you don’t own a bathtub and you live in an area concerned with water scarcity in the United States, taking a short, hot shower will work almost as well. And if you’re a college student in the midst of midterms or finals and you maybe haven’t showered in a couple days, a warm shower will do you well. Hang some eucalyptus on your shower head or put a couple drops of your favorite essential oil on your shower floor to give you some calming, steamy aromatherapy.
  7. Therapists are AWESOME – On a serious note, sometimes de-stressing takes a little more than drinking a cup of tea and meditating. Sometimes you need a little extra help, and there is nothing wrong with that. Let me repeat myself: There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. Needing. Help. There is a stigma in our society that says that seeing a therapist means you’re “broken”, “crazy”, or “weak”, but those things are completely untrue. Going to see a therapist is one of the most put-together, mature, strong things you can do for yourself. In my humble opinion, I think everyone should see a therapist at least once in their life. When you get to know anyone below surface level, you’ll learn that nobody’s perfect. Unless you have an awesome friend that will listen to you with their complete, undivided attention, for a whole hour, unbiased about anything you say, it helps to see a therapist. Luckily, most college campus’ health centers have someone you can talk to for free for a certain number of sessions. If this sounds appealing to you, then I recommend you stop by your campus’ health center soon. Trust me when I say it’s worth it.

I hope these tips helped a little bit so this tweet doesn’t have to describe you anymore!

TWEET COLLEGE STUDENT STRESS

Remember to treat yourself right because you are a strong human being full of so much potential and don’t let anything, anyone, including yourself tell you otherwise!

Peace,

Amanda

How I Chose My Children (aka my house plants)

I never really wanted children, but what about house plants? I know, I know, house plants are nothing close to having children, but plants don’t cry (or do they???) on airplanes, grow up to be moody teenagers, or have an enormous carbon footprint. The fun thing about plants is that they have a negative carbon footprint because of photosynthesis and science and stuff, hooray! So, as a funky fresh, about-to-be-second-year college student moving into her sweet new home, I decided my roommate and I needed something to freshen up our bachelorette pad. Especially since our landlord gave us a pamphlet the moment we signed our lease that said lead may be present in our paint, who knows what other bad stuff may be lurking in our new home. Common toxic agents found in homes include benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, according to the Nasa Clean Air Study that was conducted in the 80’s. This study lists house plants that were the best at removing these common toxic agents. I kinda-maybe-only-partially based my decisions off this study.


When choosing my plants here was my criteria:

  1. As a busy college student, it will survive and is great for a beginner house plant owner.
  2. It makes my home feel happy and healthy.
  3. It is so cute it will make me cry.

Here’s the Outcome (accompanied by their dashing names):

Hansel the Spider Plant – best for removing carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide from the air, funky as fuck, grows tiny versions of itself that you can cut off and grow into new spider plants, awesome for hanging from the ceiling

Cornelius the Aloe Vera Succulent – useful for removing formaldehyde from the air (not the best plant for this job, but still useful), cute as hell, healing properties when you break off a piece and rub the slime on a scratch or burn

[fun fact: I know someone who has used the slime from their aloe vera plant for lube so take notes ladies and gents and all genders/sexualities in between]

Felix the Mammillaria Cactus – easy to keep up, also known as the “nipple cactus”, nickname is not an invitation for you to put them anywhere near your nipple as they are quite spiky, not useful for air purification but still spunky and welcome in my humble abode


 

I apologize I could not accompany these descriptions with pictures today, but there’s no need to worry as this shall not be the only post about my house plants. Once I fix my camera, I will update everyone on their lives. I hope this post helps build anticipation for when you finally get to see my fabulous children. For references about certain words I use or what these plants typically look like, please click on the links provided.

Peace and Love,

Amanda

A Little Taste of What I’m About

IMG_3829

I’ve never been good at hellos, so I’m just going to start with a little taste of what I’m about (pun completely intended). As I drink some ginger kombucha, sitting on the free wifi at my school’s library, barefoot despite the weird looks from the few students left after summer finals and very conscious of the extremely cute, septum-pierced barista working at the cafe behind me, I’ll elaborate on the lovely picture on the left that was taken many moons ago (aka last summer). Once upon a time, I had a smoothie bowl addiction. If you don’t know what a smoothie bowl is, it’s essentially a thicker smoothie, put in a bowl, so that you can eat it with a spoon, and a favorite of fit, Australian, yogi Instagrammers.

*pause to take a bite of my pad thai that I’m very aware is not paleo*

You can get pretty creative with smoothie bowls. Usually you start with a base of frozen bananas and/or açaí and add any fruit, nut butter, or spice your foodie soul desires. Then you get to the fun aesthetic part of making smoothie bowls, a very important step in becoming a true smoothie bowl zealot, where you layer the top of your smoothie bowl with toppings such as sliced fruit, seeds, more nut butter, and/or funky superfoods like the infamous goji berries. If you want to go the extra mile, you can get creative with your choice of bowl like I did above. It helps to have a sturdy blender and some type of technology to take a picture of your perfectly sculpted smoothie bowl because if you don’t take a picture of your smoothie bowl you aren’t living the full smoothie bowl experience. If you don’t take a picture and post it on your preferred choice of social media, you might as well have not even made a smoothie bowl at all.


The Simple Recipe for Smoothie Bowl posted above:

  • couple frozen, peeled bananas
  • a generous scoop of cashew butter (or any nut butter of your choosing)
  • a touch of almond milk (or milk of your choosing), (optional)
  • sunflower seeds for topping (optional)
  • half a papaya, seeds scooped out, for delicious decorative bowl (optional)

Blend frozen bananas with cashew butter in a blender (I use a Vitamix). Make sure to pause blending every once and a while to scrape down sides. If the consistency of banana cashew sludge is too thick and not blending completely, add a touch of almond milk to give your blender a helping hand. Stop blending when your smoothie has come to a smooth, thick consistency, making sure no banana chunks are present. Cut a papaya in half and scoop out the seeds to create a bowl shaped area for your smoothie. Top with sunflower seeds and don’t forget to take a picture! Once you’ve completed everything listed above, feel free to dig in and not share with anyone in your close vicinity.


I hope you enjoyed my first post! Like I said, it’s just a taste of what this blog is all about. Stay tuned every week, or whenever I decide to post, for adventures such as life as a college student, making my own yogurt, my social and environmental justice work, fermenting random veggies, picking a CSA, or maybe some guest appearances from some special homies of mine.

Have a fabulous, funky day!

Peace and love,

Amanda