More Than Caffeine.

Coffee shops are mental safe houses for some of us with overactive brains. Something about it soothes, and it seems to be where I am the most productively thoughtful.

The hissing of the espresso machine, the whirring of the blender, the white noise of deep and meaningless chatter, the soft hum of semi-alternative folk music, the barista who calls out random names and fancy drinks, and best of all the buzz of caffeine in my veins.

It’s quiet, and the sounds that should be loud never are. Perhaps the cacophony of obscure sounds mix together in a way that touches the soul and pacifies the mind, or maybe the low-lighting and euphoric atmosphere just really hones our senses.

I don’t know, and I don’t care.

I refuse to see the science behind it because then the magic of an unflawed coffee-space is lost.

When in need of a day to yourself, I urge you to go. Sit in a shop with a book, a sketchpad, something that you can use in a productive manner and see what happens.

If you’re anything like me, you’re in store for a lovely, restoring and peaceful day.

Whether it’s Starbucks or a local hole-in-the-wall, there is a special sort of charm that is only found in a coffee shop.

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Repeat After Me

Repeat after me:

“I am strong. I am enough. I am worthy.”

Or perhaps you’d rather something more like this:

“Today, you are perfect. You are fearless.”

Or maybe fitness mantras are more your style:

“One more. Stay focused. Make like Forrest.”

It’s called psycho-cybernetics, training yourself to repeat certain affirmations regularly. Just as people who practice making free throws in their mind do just as well as those who physically make free throws till the day’s end, people can train themselves to believe something just by constant repetition.

Think back to your days in grade school. Memorization and repetition was a key to success. You may have rolled your eyes at the idea of flashcards right on into college, but there is something to it. Otherwise you wouldn’t still remember the words in PEMDAS, the names of the bones in your arm, or the words to that one song that you learned in first grade that lists the months of the year.

Human beings have understood the weight of repetition on the mind for years which is why psycho-cybernetics is so commonly (if not knowingly) practiced. The idea is that you don’t even need to believe whatever it is that you’re telling yourself, but through the sheer art of repetition, one is conditioned to conform their behaviors to their affirmation. Therefore, a person can learn to love themselves by repeating the phrase “I love myself unconditionally” regularly.

This goes to show that we, as a civilization, acknowledge the power of repetition.

Which only brings me to wonder… Why, then, do people even bother with watching the news?

Now, I do think that we should be informed citizens, but I don’t think that in today’s world the news is the only way.

The issue behind television programming is that humans love drama. So, we instinctively want to see said drama on TV. If everything was going well, we wouldn’t want to watch the news. No one wants to see clean rivers, happy school children, or a functioning government on television because it isn’t entertaining.

As a result, we get murders and dysfunction and crime. Over, and over, and over again. Through this repetition alone, we are training our minds in destructive thought patterns—because that’s what we see and therefore think—but it’s sort of the exact opposite of what our silly, hokey mantras are trying to change.

My argument is not that we should all just turn off the flow of current events into our homes—it’s important to be at least a little informed. I just urge us to consider the way we receive our information and the way that it is affecting our inner minds, the ones we work so hard to convert to positivity.

“I will read. I will listen. I will watch.”

It must have been a simpler time when television didn’t exist.

Do you think that the radio was less dramatic? Or maybe the telegram?

Dear Future Husband

Dear Future Husband,

I hope that you’re happy, that you’re enjoying your youth, and that you’re as excited to be put into my life as I am to be a part of yours.

Please be patient with me. It’ll take some time for me to completely open up, but I promise I’ll get there if you give me a little while. Hearts are fragile and rejection hurts—so I tend to keep mine to myself a bit more than I should. I know that we’re supposed to love like broken hearts don’t exist, and I will, but maybe not right away.

There are so many things that I’m excited to share with you, but some I’m afraid to as well. The past is a hard thing to dig through, so sometimes it seems easier for me to hide my shovel. But I promise to help you hold yours if you help me with mine.

Know that I’m not nearly as smart as I think I am. Don’t be afraid to challenge me. Someone who can stretch me beyond my limits is dire. I hope that we, together, will help each other grow—mentally, physically, and spiritually. I hope that we make each other want to be better people and that we will bring out the best parts of who we are when we’re together.

I hope that God is letting you know that I’ve been praying for you, and I can’t wait to know you. I pray that you and I can build a foundation of God so that we can flourish with and through Him so that, together, we can laugh at the days to come.

Know that I wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s just that, sometimes, I like to really layer up with cardigans and jackets, and it may take a bit of work to actually find the sleeve that I’ve put my heart on.

I want to thank you in advance for understanding my humor, likely mocking my verbose and obnoxious use of language, putting up with my big, crazy family, and for proving to me that earthly, romantic love in its purest form can really exist.

I plan to love you, and I need you to know that once God puts you, the right guy, into my life, only He will have ever loved you more.

With love,

Your Future Wife

A Quick Little Vegan Q&A

**DISCLAIMER** This blogpost is a little academic in quality, and a bit longer than my normal ones. However, it’s got a lot of good information!!! Give it a quick read if you’re curious!

I went vegan four years ago. It was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life. Every time someone new hears about my lifestyle choice, I get a lot of questions. I thought maybe I’d take the time to answer a few.

Why did you go vegan?

I (originally) went vegan for the health benefits. How can you argue with research? According to the World Health Organization, as stated in their report “Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements,” ”households should select predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits… with [minimal] amounts of added flesh foods.” In this report, they prove that a largely plant-based diet is the healthiest lifestyle.

Bonus points if you look up what IGF-1 is. (Hint: It’s in animal products, and it’s not good for you.)

There have been people who, when diagnosed with cancer, switched to a completely raw food diet (consisting of only fruits and vegetables). According to Dr. Greger, author of the NY Times best seller How Not to Die, nearly all of them, except those who were diagnosed too late, went into permanent remission. To me, that sounds a lot like a cure.

My family has a long history of chronic health problems (like heart disease and cancer!), so I figured that it would be best to take preventative measures. ALSO—I had a lot of goals that I wanted to reach in terms of fat loss and fitness. Veganism helped me get there.

Okay, but like… what do you even eat?

And to that, my friend, I would ask the snarky question: “Have you ever eaten an apple?”

In all seriousness, I’ve never felt deprived because of my decision to go vegan. I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy (yes, that means no cheese), or anything else that may come from an animal—period. That leaves SO MANY FOOD GROUPS. Anything that doesn’t scream, squeal, or bleed is game.

My food is good. If you take the time to learn how to cook for yourself (if you’re someone who’s not already used to doing so), you can learn so many tips and tricks that make your food delicious.

BUT DUDE, what about your BROTEIN intake???

Have you ever heard of a person, a vegan, dying from a protein deficiency? As long as you’re eating enough, you’ll be just fine. And, if you weight lift, or you feel that you need a bit more for any reason, there are lots of protein powders, bars, cookies, etc.

Still, I stand by the fact that you can get all the protein you need by eating your normal plant foods as long as you’re getting an ample amount of food. Plus, you can always make sure that you’re getting plenty of beans, nuts, legumes, and other protein rich plant foods.

What do you mean veganism is good for the environment?

Along the way, I started to learn more and ethics became a huge part of my choice. The animal agriculture industry is the actual worst, and not even just in terms the abuse inflicted on the animals (which is horrible), but it’s responsible for a large portion of deforestation, pollution, and is taking up SO MUCH WATER.

Fun facts:

  • The United States ALONE grows enough food to feed 10 billion people (take a moment to acknowledge that there are less than 8 million people on earth and a large portion of them are starving) and 70-80% of that goes to feed animals—not people.
  • Livestock covers over 45% of the Earth’s land.
  • Transportation only accounts for 13% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock and their byproducts account for 51%.
  • If we don’t reverse the damage being done by the animal agriculture industry, we’ll see lifeless oceans by 2048.
  • Livestock require a lot of water.
    • 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of beef.
    • 477 gallons are required to produce 1 pound of eggs.
    • 900 gallons are needed for 1 pound of cheese.
    • 1,000 gallons are required to produce 1 GALLON of milk—if that’s not a visual, I don’t know what is.

Do you care about ethics?

I do, very much so. But unfortunately, most people don’t, so it tends to be what I talk about the least. If you really want to see the abuse that goes on in the industry, do a quick google. You can see that male chicks are ground up alive just moments after hatching as they have no value—they won’t produce eggs. You can see that cows develop attachments to their young, just like we do, but their calves are ripped from them at birth to maximize profit, and the males are immediately killed for veal because they can’t produce milk. And this is just scratching the surface.

I recommend “If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls,” a video made by Paul McCartney. You can find it on YouTube.

You Know What Happens When You Assume

Our culture has a bad habit of assuming.

And you know what they say happens when you assume…

Shrek Donkey

I’ve come to notice that many of the people in this world follow leaders blindly. It seems as though the age-old mom question “if your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you too?” has a definitive answer among my youthful friends.

And the answer is “yes.”

It doesn’t even have to be to that extreme—I promise, death doesn’t have to be directly involved. It’s usually small things such as assuming that because the majority of people believe something, it’s inherently true. Why would everyone just believe something that’s wrong?

Well, imagine something on a smaller scale. Perhaps there are two ways into your neighborhood and to your house. Four of the five members of your family take one route, while your mom always takes the other. You assume that your way, everyone else’s way, is the fastest because that’s the way you all choose to go, and why would you all collectively choose the slower road?

But then, you measure the distance and time that both take and discover that (shocker) your mother has been right all along.

Shared misguided assumption.

This is something that I’ve frequently battled with. However, in the recent past I’ve realized that a lot of the opinions I believed I had, that I assumed were correct because everyone else said they were, are absolute nonsense. I had to do a huge amount of growing (and thinking) to realize that most of my actual opinions are the exact opposite of what the world was telling me was right.

The bandwagon effect is a strange one. It’s kind of like we’d rather someone else do the thinking for us, but that doesn’t do anything to help us grow. When we aren’t growing, we’re remaining stagnant and that’s unhealthy and unproductive and opens us up to personal corruption.

We’re all entitled to our own opinions, even if our opinions are (ahem) wrong, but at least make sure that you’ve thought about them from all angles so that you can actually claim them as your own. It warrants so much more respect. People will be much more excited and willing to hear what you have to say when they can tell that the thoughts you’re spewing are your own, and aren’t just regurgitated and recycled information.

Like I mentioned in a previous blogpost, saying that something is okay, doesn’t actually make it okay. So try not to just jump onto the wagon with everyone around you.

That being said, in an ideal world, discussions about differing opinions would be done respectfully. It’s okay to have a conflicting views, even different morals than the people around you. Grown adults should be able to handle healthy debates and conversations about contrasting outlooks. Not everything has to turn into a bloodbath.

Speak your mind responsibly, my friends.