I’m not a runner. I’ve never been, nor do I want to be. I dread the moment I have to push myself through shin splits and inhales I cannot grab to cross a finish line. What’s the point of a race when you are in pain for most of it anyways?
I played soccer in high school, so naturally that came with doing a few sprints now and again. Luckily, I played goalie, so when we did the timed two-mile run, it didn’t matter how long it took me, so long as it was completed.
I like to be in good shape. Dancing has always been my passion and favorite way to do so. Yoga, intramural sports and the elliptical do what I need them to do. But I avoid the treadmill at all costs.
When my sister suggested we run a 5K Turkey Trot before the meal on Thanksgiving Day, to say I was hesitant would be an understatement. Let’s see, we would be running; I’m already not a fan. Then getting up early on a break from school; obviously not favorable. The race would happen in November, so it is probably going to be cold. Now, I had checked out before even signing up.
But I feared disappointing my sister more. She wanted so desperately to do a family bonding activity. Even though I hate running, how could I resist?
Here we are: Thanksgiving morning. Thursday, November 22nd at 7:20 am came much sooner than expected. After suiting up in my new purple running outfit, we were on our way to downtown Pittsburgh. The car thermometer read 35 degrees. Brrrr.
Driving around the block multiple times in attempts to find a parking spot only added to my feeling of not wanting to get out of the car. Soon enough, I’m lined up at the start with nearly 5,000 other runners. The gun sounds and we are off.
My expectation was to be the slow one. My sister had been training over a month for this race while I simply played two to three soccer games a week for kicks and giggles. We round the first bend, I jump ahead to get in front of a few women walking. My sister fails to follow; now I’m on my own.
Keeping a steady pace, I pass a few other racers and let a few pass me. I see the first mile marker off of the 7th Street Bridge and shockingly, I feel great. In only a few minutes I notice the second one, then the third. I spend most of the race following the crowd and daydreaming. In what felt like 10 minutes, but is a short half an hour later, I finished.
A bit sore from the cold and cramped muscles, here’s what this three-mile race taught me: 1. Stop complaining and start doing. If you think you can finish, you will. 2. You can be anything you choose to be. 3. Maybe training would help make me a better runner.
While some of us may be trying to be one with the Earth, a new trend in diet and exercise has brought out the best in American city dwellers.
Eating organic, local food has become a rising trend around major urban areas in the U.S. With access to higher-end grocery stores, like Whole Foods, getting quality produce has become easier and easier. Local farmers markets are, too, more popular. The current number of farmers markets registered with the USDA is 7,864. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in early August that the number of farmer’s markets has increased by nearly 10% in the past year. The most successful states stretch from coast to coast with California and New York leading the way. In Washington, D.C. there is nearly one every other day during the spring and summer. As a city dweller myself, I can get fresh fruits and vegetables for my weekly meals. And when they aren’t there, you ask? Well buy extra for the winter and stick them in the freezer.
Sometimes it’s about following the lead of our ancestors. Back in the day people like George Washington used to salt their fresh meat for storage and make jam out of their leftover fruits. Smart preservation let them eat healthier with fresh ingredients even during off seasons.
But of course with easy access comes a higher price. Organic foods take more time and care than non-organic products. Organic products cost anywhere between 20% and 100% more than their non-organic counterparts, according to Fox News. With the disparities in wealth, a large segment of individuals within a city are unable to access these products, regardless of the improved health standard.
This new journey for a healthy mind and body does not just end with what you consume. It has to do with exercise too. So, let’s talk about yoga. A physical activity that teaches you mind and body control. The exercise focuses on the individual success and confidence. With our American ideals, no wonder it has become so popular. Americans have to be in control. And now us urbanites like toned, shaped muscles too.
And this granola-crunching adjective has been around for far too long. While it used to mean eating granola and recycling every plastic bottle, it now has transitioned to mean being in touch with nature. Hiking, fishing, and climbing have gained some serious traction both on the East and West coasts. High-energy activities fit right along in with this ‘hippie’ attitude.
While America may still be the most overweight and out of shape country in the world, this new energy may be the solution to our problem. While we are far short from losing all of our fat as a nation, our city dwellers are developing habits that should be mimicked in the rest of the lifestyles across from the country. So give into this ‘hippie’ lifestyle. Maybe the energy of the 1960s will return right along with it.
An eerie, queasy feeling fills my stomach when bills arrive in the mailbox. Those dreaded numbers printed in black ink spell out the future for my bank account. I can see the green dollar bills disappearing right before my eyes.
The most unpredictable one, the electric bill, usually stares blankly at me from my kitchen table for almost three days until I decide to reveal my fate. Slowly, steadily, I rip open the sealed envelope. Pull the folded paper from its cover. And see, what the print out has in store for me.
To great surprise, this one only reads $63.79. In a whole month, I spent about $16 a week on utilities. In this current economy, every penny saved makes a great deal of difference.
But besides the money disappearing before my eyes, paying per kilowatt of energy used had made me aware of how much electricity is truly wasted. The average electric bill for Washington, D.C is $3,314.57, according the U.S. Department of Energy. Despite some of the differences between the type of homes that use it, we ranked as the highest spender compared to other major areas around the country. What does that mean?
We are wasteful. Air conditioning blasts out of the vents while no one is home. Lights remain on throughout the night. Heated water is left running in excess before we hop into the shower.
Let’s think about if any or all of it disappeared. It did for many individuals during the recent Hurricane Sandy. No lights. No water. No heat during the winter. No air conditioning during the summer. Besides being mildly unpleasant, this is a very real reality that we may need to face in the near future.
The sources used to create electricity are not free either. With coal as the leading source of power, it produces 44% of our electricity and is the single largest air polluter says the Union of Concerned Scientists. I’m not advocating for clean energy or even finding a new source of power. I’m suggesting we start using the energy we have in smarter ways. Despite the abundance and easy access to coal, it is not a renewable resource. What we use now cannot be replaced for later.
But solving this problem is much easier than you think. Use what you need then turn it off. We live a country that thrives on electricity. Not using it would be foolish and down right impossible. But using less is definitely a feasible solution. Turn the lights off when you are not in the room and turn the central heating off when you leave. These small changes will make a difference in your energy consumption and on your wallet.
Shy has never been an adjective used to describe me. Loud, chatty, bold. Those are a bit more accurate. When I was asked to apply for the Senior Interviewer Program at the George Washington University, I could not resist.
If there was ever an activity that I was meant to do, it would be this one. Maybe besides being a tour guide, there is no better fit. My job has been to interview perspective freshmen to see if he or she is a good match for the university. With only a few training sessions, I have the ability to shape a conversation with these students and decide if they should be my replacement after I graduate.
Even though I thought I would enjoy this, I still severely underestimated how much fun I would really have. In doing two interviews a week, I get to meet students from across the country and hear about the cool things they are doing in their communities. It is their stories that make me excited.
But capturing their narratives can be tricky. As the interviewer, I can navigate the conversation to every corner of the room and unlock doors into his or her secrets. When I ask a question, they are free to answer as they wish. Directly at it, dancing around it, or switching to another related topic give me insight into their personality and their confidence. The key is to be direct and specific. But the mystery behind each door still remains.
Until now, I never realized the true art of an interview. While I grew up watching the news and seeing how lead reporters captured the stories of their guests, it never occurred to me that there was a technique to the conversation. Talking, to me, was natural. And while it may be a skill for most who get the chance to be an interviewer, understanding what makes a person tick in a short amount of time takes talent.
My only hope is that through my talkative personality, I can give the floor to my interviewee for them to share their experiences. After all, its their moment to shine.
As any good college student with endless assignments and a hefty load of finals slowly approaching, sleep is a memory from Thanksgiving break that sped by way too fast. I almost forget already what it feels like to be completely rested and without black and blue circles beneath my eyes.
No matter how hard I try, sleep is the one activity that gets neglected. Even when I think I have a balanced course load, and I’m on top of all of my work, it still happens. But it seems that I may not be the first or last college student with this problem.
A simple Google search can help soothe any tireless mind on the effects of minimal sleep. Article after article states that without sleep, stress levels reach magnitudes that are too difficult to manage. Lower grade point averages wreak havoc upon the tired eyes. In the infographic attached below, the average GPA of a night owl is a 2. 65 out of a 4.0 scale, while those students who are rested receive on average a 3.05 out of 4.0. Even though .4 points is not a huge stretch, a few more hours under the covers every night may help every student to focus and have a more productive day.
But it is not just grades. Health is affected too. Over 70% of college students report to have some kind of illness at least once a year. Most of these minor ailments could have been prevented with a full eight hours of rest. With 80% of students complaining that they do not get enough sleep, something has got to change.
Much is expected from students these days. Organizing and participating in multiple clubs, internships, sports, having a part-time job and maintaining a full course load may be a bit excessive. While being busy is the name of the game, being overwhelmed is not.
Abundant sleep may only be three weeks away, yet a consistent sleep schedule may do wonders for me, especially during finals time. With some quality rest, tackling one of my last semesters in college should be as easy as counting sheep.
If there’s one thing that’s good about the holiday season, it is that most people try to be nice. Regardless of whether the guilt of being negative during the rest of the year is finally weighing down upon them or it is their usual behavior, the energy from a crowd of cheerful people is contagious.
Yet, there is one activity that constantly brings about a feeling of stress, anxiety, and misery no matter what time of year it is: traveling.
During the holiday season, the pains of traveling are worse than usual. Longer lines, overly crowded transportation, extra security pat downs, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and lost luggage illustrate this part of the holidays. Trying to get together with family and friends for a peaceful gathering is a vision of the past.
As if the ‘travel’ part of traveling wasn’t bad enough, everything costs more too. Train, bus, and airline tickets are almost twice as expensive as they would in a low season. By the end of this year, airlines will collect a total of $36 billion just from fees like baggage, change of flights, and travel insurance, according to CBS Morning News.
Cost or not, this is not stopping us resilient Americans. AAA recorded that 43.6 million Americans will travel somewhere for the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s a 0.7% increase from last year.
No matter the hassle and headache travel may bring, it is obvious that we will still do it. Winter holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza should be celebrated with family. The feeling of togetherness cannot be stopped by high costs and perpetual irritation.
So here’s a small piece of advice: try to use some of your holiday joy while traveling. While this may seem like a ridiculous and nearly impossible request to fulfill, I think it is possible.
Stop honking your car horns and let people into your lanes. Stop pushing in line and patiently wait your turn. Stop over packing your suitcase and learn to bring a small bag. These simple tips will uplift your attitude and make getting to your destination much smoother.
And help each other out once in a while. On a recent train home from New Jersey, a woman having difficulty lifting her bag into the overhead storage area. A nice gentleman helped her, instead of watching her struggle. This is the kind of attitude everyone should have during his or her holiday travels. After all, this is the “season to be jolly.”
Here are a few links to blog posts I wrote for my internship for Believe Out Loud:
1. A Baptist church in Virginia is being kicked out of one of the ‘governing bodies’ of all Baptist churches because they elected a gay clergy member: “Storm Coming as Baptist Church Kicked Out”
2. This article examines a Pew Study on Religion and Millennials: Young Voters with a Religious Passion
3. Even in churches there are politics: Bishop Marc Andrus Denied Entrance to Installation Mass of Roman Catholic Archbishop
With the final push for marriage equality the main four states are running serious campaigns to make the vote count:
4. Religious leaders in Washington state speak their mind on the issue: Religious Leaders Support Marriage Equality in WA
6. Firefighters stand up for their LGBTQ counterparts in Maine: Extra Muscle for Marriage Equality in Maine
7. Reverend Lang speaks to WA state about marriage: Marriage Equality in WA
Stay tuned for more updates!
Last Saturday night, just inside Lisner Auditorium there was more to be heard than the civil discourse of two of TV’s favorite political show hosts. Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly took to the stage in a “brutal” battle titled, “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium“. And it was the passion of the audience that they both were vying for.
It’s not every day that you get an invitation to attend an event of this caliber (especially when the tickets have been sold out since the day they went on sale). So naturally, when you get asked if you want a ticket with only an hour left before the event starts, you say YES.
Arriving just in time to take my seat in the highest box in the auditorium, I could not help but notice that every seat in the house was full. I guess there are a few people in this political town that wanted to see the showdown.
With O’Reilly and Stewart’s entrance, the moderator began “moderating” their talk for just over an hour. From a few zingers at each other and the moderator not being able to get a word in edge-wise, here is some of what I learned:
- Both sides of the aisle can agree on some things. O’Reilly said that capitalism was the biggest problem for America and that the US should not have been in Iraq (at which Stewart jumped off his podium and gasped).
- Laughter is the best medicine for politics. And O’Reilly and Stewart had some great things to make us do so. The problem? Most of the jokes came from the sad realities of what is going on today.
- Politics has become a spectacle. O’Reilly and his cue card doodles and Stewart’s electronic platform that made him as tall as O’Reilly. And who could forget the frequent references to the most recent debate?
Here’s the thing. This “rumble” was more than just putting on a show. Even though they did a good job doing that too. It confirms that this election needs to be about conversation. About sitting down, face-to-face, and hashing out the issues. With or without the camera and the mounds of press in the room. It is about the discussion.
In the School of Media and Public Affairs, we learn the tools to start and continue conversations on many multimedia platforms. And more importantly, how to sit down and talk in person. So here is my challenge for all of you in this last month of the election season 2012: Don’t just think about politics. Talk about them.
I had the privilege of attending the Take it to the Bridge series at the Corcoran Gallery of Art at the end of September. Maida Withers, a professor of dance at the George Washington University did a performance titled, #Occupy Maida, focusing on the political messaging behind the Occupy movement. I did a video documentation of the event and loved taking these photos.
Click on the Link Below: