Posted in Uncategorized

Spring Cleaning: Planning for Success


Now that you’ve taken some time to reflect on what areas in your life are in need of some sprucing, its time to figure out the how. Today, let’s figure out a plan to increase the chances of success in your spring cleaning venture.

First, we have to figure out what activities will increase your satisfaction with a given domain. Below you’ll find a list of 3 domains along with some ideas of things to incorporate into your daily routine. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but rather meant to get the wheels turning. I’ll be posting the last 4 domains on Wednesday, April 5.
Continue reading “Spring Cleaning: Planning for Success”

Posted in Series

Spring Cleaning: Assessment

spring cleaning

Now that it is officially Spring (!), I thought that I would do a mini-series on the theme of spring cleaning. This isn’t just the act of finally opening the windows and dusting the cobwebs out of the room corners – I’m talking full blown re-haul of life. Every once in a while I like to stop and assess how my life is going and, based on my reflections, choose what things I want to keep, alter, or toss.

You could think about this in terms of actually cleaning the house – like do you reallllllly need that pile of magazines in the corner that you’ve only ever flipped through unenthusiastically? (hint: probably not!). Or you could clean out your closet and get rid of the stuff that you never wear, doesn’t fit, or isn’t your style anymore (hint: donate if its appropriate!!). Or, taking this even further, you could “spring clean” your life by taking a look at the different aspects of wellness and figuring out what routines and habits to keep, which to alter, and which to stop or start.

wellness wheel

Its fairly easy to look at a teeming closet and realize that you need to sort it out, but its a little harder to do that with life. Instead, I used a template that I found recently from the University of North Dakota and it made the process of reflecting on the different domains of my life much easier.

The domains that it assesses are:

  • physical wellness
  • social wellness
  • emotional wellness
  • environmental wellness
  • occupational wellness
  • spiritual wellness
  • intellectual wellness

I found this assessment to be really helpful in breaking down each part of my life and teasing out some of the details. Clearly, it can’t ask about everything, but it can definitely get the juices flowing!

For me, I need the most work on my Emotional and Environmental wellness, followed closely by Social and Spiritual wellness. My next project is to develop a plan for myself along with realistic ways for me to address each of these domains and support myself in these areas.

So, what are you waiting for! Give it a try. What areas are you succeeding in? Which ones are harder for you? No one is perfect, so if you feel like you’re struggling everywhere, choose the domain that is most meaningful to you and work on that first!

Check back on Sunday for some inspiration for improvement in each of the domains!

Posted in Films

Doc Review: What the Health

what the health

A new vegan/health documentary was released last week – with much anticipation and build up if I do say so myself. YouTubers were making preview videos about it and offering brief pre-release reviews to entice folks to watch it. I wasn’t given an pre-release screening, but I did watch it on ‘opening day’ so to speak and overall, I really enjoyed it.

I am going to give a brief overview of the movie along with my honest thoughts about the film – this post is certainly not sponsored, nor do I have any stake in posting positively about this film. What drew me to watching it was, mostly, the hype being built up by some of the vegan YouTubers that I follow and their views that this documentary offered a new look at the Big Agriculture/Big Pharma industry.

Always looking to gather more knowledge, I decided to watch it and take some notes. Below are some highlights and topics that the film featured.

Topics included

  • The cause of diabetes (Hint: its not sugar or carbs)
    • Hypocrisy of American Cancer Society (ACS) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) in their advocacy for eating of meat/processed meat
  • Toxins in food
    • Dioxin, pcbs, mercury, etc
  • Dairy and lactose-intolerance of most people of color
  • In-depth look at the American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, Susan G Komen Foundation, and the American Heart Association in relation to their funding, their sponsors, and their food or meal plan advocacy
  • Fraud of Big Pharma

Also included in the film was some testimony from two formerly imprisoned folks – an activist and a former USDA meat inspector who was jailed for being a whistle blower in reporting mad cow disease in US beef.

A really interesting quote from the movie that really stuck out to me was…

We already have people dying from salmonella and other things that you eat. We have about 3,000 people dying every year…in the United States! Thats more than the number of people that were killed in 9/11, in the twin towers in New York. If we had some terrorist organization killing 3,000 people a year, we would be all over it! …The antibiotic resistant bacteria deaths that we have, on top of that, we get 20,000 people dying a year. Thats seven 9/11s every year…Can you imagine if that many people were being killed by some terrorist group in the United States every year?! We would find them!

– Jaydee Hanson, Center for Food Safety, Senior Policy Analyst

My take-aways:

Honestly, I did learn more about the disease foundation industry (ACS, ADA, AHA, etc) than I knew prior to watching this film. They had a lot of little tidbits of information that I hadn’t really thought about before, and it has armed me for battle the next time someone tries to knock veganism or question why I “do this to myself”.
In addition, I didn’t know some of the information that was discussed about diabetes. No one in my family has diabetes (that I know of…) so I don’t really get how it works. This film helped me to understand a bit more.
I enjoyed hearing from the various speakers and the narrator/creators of the film did a great job being curious, pushing back when they weren’t given information, and trying to get the whole story.

I give it a 10/10, and honestly, I think I’m going to watch it again for any information that I might have missed the first time around!

Interested in watching for yourself? Check out the link below to the website where you can purchase the movie in DVD form or stream it online.

(Note: I do not receive any compensation from posting this, nor is this an affiliate link!)

Posted in books

Book Review: The Year of the Flood

If I had to pick an author that I’m particularly fond of, I would choose Margaret Atwood. She is incredibly talented and has written so many books! Recently, I found out that The Handmaid’s Tale is being made into a live-action film; definitely excited to see that! After seeing a commercial for the film, I decided to look into more books by Margaret Atwood. There were so many that I hadn’t read yet!


The Year of the Flood (written back in 2009 – I had no idea!) is about a dystopian society – one of her favorite themes – that is set in the future and weaves in topics of environmentalism, vegetarianism, distrust of The Man, and female strength. The majority of the leading characters are women, and they display their strength in their mode of employment, their personal histories, and the challenges that are set upon them throughout the book.

I found the novel to be really interesting in its set up. The chapters jump between several narrators and different time periods as well. There is a pseudo-cultish/religious flavor to it that helps to organize the book and the time jumps in each chapter. There is a nice pattern to the switches and the pseudo-religion provides a glimpse into an interesting facet of this dystopian universe.

The title of the book also hints at the religious theme; calling to mind the great flood that necessitated Noah’s Ark and the collecting of animal pairs. The flood that takes place in this dystopian world however, is not one of water. Though the book doesn’t come out with a complete answer, there are small hints strewn throughout the book that help readers to imagine what kind of waste this flood left in its wake.

I give this book a 8/10 mostly because the ending bugs me in its abruptness. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the introduction and formation of characters, plot, and use of theme.

If you’re in to futuristic, dystopian novels than I encourage you to give this book a go. Its not a short read, coming in 431 pages, but the content makes the pages fly by. If you end up reading it, let me know what you think!

Posted in Films

Exciting Vegan Things

Remember how I said that I might have a snow day?
Well I didn’t get one….I got two! Even though today the roads are totally clear, its not snowing at all, and the temperature is only 21 degrees F – aka we totally could have had work today – I’m thankful for the second day off. March is one of those months that seems to never end, so having some time off breaks it up.

On to the point of this post – exciting vegan things! There are a few documentaries out/coming out that I learned about yesterday while I was scrolling through YouTube. Plant Based News posted a video about the top 5 Vegan Documentaries of 2017 and he listed the following:

  • What the Health (releases 3/16/17)
  • Eating You Alive (released 2016, just watched, review to come)
  • Eating Our Way to Extinction (release date TBD)
  • Carnage (releasing Spring 2017)
  • Game Changers (release date 2017 TBD)

All of them look pretty interesting, but if you’re like me and have watched pretty much every available documentary on the vegan lifestyle and/or the nature of animal agriculture, then you’re probably wondering how relevant or novel these documentaries could be. And I’m right there with you. Having watching all of the ‘big’ documentaries and a ton of shorter, lesser known ones as well, I find myself hearing the same information over and over again. Plus, its not like they are convincing me of anything – I’m already vegan!

That being said, there is a lot of talk about What The Health (its being released tomorrow!) because there are new interviews with health industry folks that seem to demonstrate that The Man is hiding a whole lot from us little people aka consumers of health care, pharmaceuticals, and food. I’ve already pre-ordered it because I too am excited to see what the hype is. And I have recently started to compile some easy to remember facts so when folks question why I am vegan, I can provide a sound and scientifically-backed answer.

As noted above, I just watched Eating You Alive and I’ll be posting a review on that soon. I plan on doing the same for What The Health. Hopefully those can be up within the next week or so!

If you watch or plan on watching the films, let me know what you think of them! I’m always interested in learning what others take away from these types of docs.

Posted in weather

NE Weather..

Remember how I said week or so ago that spring was finally here? 

Well now we’re looking at 12-18″ of snow and blizzard conditions on Tuesday! How’s that for spring?

In other news, it could mean a snow day! And that, despite the knowledge that I would have to shovel out my car at some point, is happy news to me.

 I could use an extra day off this week. Especially because March – as any one who has ever worked in a school knows – is the worst month of the year due mainly to the fact that there are no holidays that warrant a national/organization-wide day off. Sure, St. Paddy’s Day is around the corner, but that isn’t a day-off kind of holiday. And besides the day I’m taking off in order to fly back from Louisiana, I don’t have any days off or long weekends this month! 

All things considered, I guess I will live if we get 12-18 inches of snow on Tuesday. BUT we better have a day off because of it.

Posted in reflection

Rule breaking

My organization has a rule that on Fridays from 1-5pm we are supposed to be in the office to complete our database responsibilities. The reason is that it is a dedicated time for us to get this technical record keeping done without interruption.

Well today I broke the rules.

One of my clients is supposed to start a job on Monday – but only if he has all of the paperwork filled out and all the necessary paperwork. This kid is 15 years old and his Mother isn’t very reliable when it comes to getting tasks completed, so I decided to break the rules and go over to their home at 3pm today to help this kiddo fill out the paperwork.

I’m very glad that I did! None of it had been even started and like any 15 year old, he didn’t know how to fill any of it out without an adult.

And the best part was seeing how excited he was to be doing such monotonous work. I know him well enough to know that he struggles to stay focused and motivated – but he literally couldn’t have been happier filling out all the tedious papers, signing his name, and learning his social security number.

This is why we need to give kids second and third and fourth chances. This is a kid who has 4 open cases and who police are fed up with – but I get to see part of who he really is….a 15 year old psyched to have his very first job.