Category Archives: Knowledge

Change: Brought to You by Failure

When you are caught up with mistakes in life, you never realize how much it really takes to free you from them. I failed because I haven’t been able to let go of the past. I failed because I wanted to categorize my success in ways that other people do. Lots of people fail, but many don’t completely come back to a place that enables them to succeed.

I hadn’t taken the time to step back and actually consider what makes me happy. What I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I haven’t considered on which terms I want to live my life. So I procrastinated, found projects to occupy my time, and wasted countless hours on meaningless things that will not change my life or outlook on it.

I am taking responsibility for my life right now. Hate your job? Find something you love doing , because no one but you is making you work there. Don’t know what you want to do with your life? Figure it out, because no one else is going to shape your future. Caught up in the past? Now is the perfect time to realize that it’s holding you back from leading the life you truly want, and move on. 

Last night while I was driving, I had a passing thought. I am 22 years old and just for that moment, I wanted my struggles to end. I was sick of fighting and losing, and I could think of few things that would motivate me enough to continue living. And there in two very telling words, lies my problem and solution: “continue living”. I don’t want to just continue living. I want to live a life that I look forward to living everyday. Underneath this static facade, I want to be dynamic. I want to be energetic, learn new things, and  desire new knowledge and enjoy my life. I want to meet people that change the way I think. I want the world to see the best version of me possible. Simply continuing to live won’t allow me to do that. I only hope I still have time. My failures thus far have taken me to a point where I can’t ignore myself any longer. As JK Rowling said in an epic commencement speech:

“Failure means a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

My failure led me to this moment, and to this blog post.From now on, my energy will be spent on things that move me. Things that make me happy and fulfilled. Things that will bring me knowledge and joy. I am using this public blog post as a way to acknowledge that I do not live a life I am content with, and as an agent of change. I am not afraid of failing, because it is better than the static position I find myself in now. I define my success and determine my happiness, and I will define my terms to get there. Why waste the only life you have doing anything else?

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Want to be a better person? This is like the how-to guide.

How to Win Friends and Influence People - novel by Dale Carnegie - cover image

Dale Carnegie just blew me away. I finished the book this morning and I am about to pass it on to my dad. It’s like common sense, but better. I want to personally thank him for making such a helpful book! I can imagine the principles he dictates working wonders in every area of my life.

Get Your Sugar Facts Straight!

There’s been a lot of hype in the news lately about sugar and its effects on our bodies. How much sugar should we consume everyday? What kind of sugar is right for you? In my latest College Candy post, I give it to you straight:

pouring spoon of sugar

Click to read my latest College Candy post: everything you need to know about SUGAR.

Bring on the Bathing Suits!

[Read the edited version on the CollegeCandy site.]

Sodium is like that annoying, socially awkward neighbor you avoid inviting to your parties. He must know he’s not welcome, but he can’t take a hint. Somehow he always manages to arrive sporting a neon bandana, jorts, and a case of Natty Light (somewhat tolerable). But I digress. Clearly your sodium is not clad in ridiculous cut-off jeans – the point is that the amount of salt we consume daily can add up when  you least expect it. Summer happens to bring out the worst in my issues with salt (read: bloating). No matter how hard we hit the gym to get fit for bathing suit season, that extra water retention always manages to come back and haunt us right before we hit the beach. I say to hell with it.

I’ve written about the other negative effects that sodium has on the body, too. Think high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, etc… my personal fave has to be fluid retention though. You can become bloated because your body  retains water to dilute all of the sodium you’ve consumed. The Mayo Clinic recommends less than  2,300 mg of sodium a day for healthy adults. Thousands of milligrams, you say? Puh-lease. Why am I even reading this article?
HOLD UP, girl. Put that daily recommendation of 2,300 mg of sodium into perspective! Let’s say you decide your salad needs a little more flava: a measly teaspoon of table salt. Be prepared – you’re adding 2,325 mg of sodium, which means you are already over your daily recommended intake.
NOW think about this: on average, only 5% of our daily sodium intake is from adding it into our foods. The real culprits are processed and prepared foods – a whopping 77% of our daily sodium intake, to be exact! You don’t need to cut out salt completely – it would be near impossible because it’s in practically everything you eat. We need a small amount for our bodies to function anyway.  For example, when the annoying neighbor inevitably makes his way over to your party, you can’t just kick him out and be done with it. He lives next door, for chrissake! So don’t stress, just become more aware of what you’re putting into your body.

In my personal war against all bloat-inducing-foods (BIFs?), I’ve come across a few unlikely salt culprits that you should consider before slipping on your bikinis this summer – and probs during the rest of the year too. Remember we only need 2,300 mg of sodium (at most) a day, so look out for these surprisingly salty foods:
•    Dairy foods. Unprocessed dairy products have pretty low amounts of sodium, but once they are processed the sodium is way higher than expected!
⁃    1 cup low-fat milk = 107 mg
⁃    1 oz. slice American cheese = 406 mg
⁃    1 cup cottage cheese = 851 mg
•    Condiments. Who knew mustard and ketchup contained this much sodium? And I don’t feel so guilt-free now ordering the low-sodium soy sauce with my sushi…
⁃    1 tbsp. mustard or ketchup = 190 mg
⁃    2 tbsp. fat free italian dressing = 430mg
⁃    1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce = 600mg
⁃    1 tbsp. soy sauce = 1,000 mg

•    Soup & Sauces. I knew about the sodium content in soup before, but this is borderline obscene. Watch out for those processed tomato products!
⁃    1 cup Cream of Chicken soup = 1,047 mg
⁃    1 cup Chicken Vegetable soup = 1,068 mg
⁃    1 cup tomato sauce = 1,284 mg

•    Frozen/canned/packaged foods. I was expecting these to be high, but not for canned beans to have nearly the same amount of sodium as a chicken pot pie! Cray cray.
⁃    2 slices deli turkey meat = 450 mg
⁃    1 cup canned beans = 856 mg
⁃    1 frozen chicken pot pie = 857 mg
⁃    1 cup mac & cheese = 1,061 mg

•    Snacks & Grains. Bread & cereal are never places I expected to find sodium in! And holy dessert – pudding, too!?
⁃    2 slices whole wheat bread = 268mg
⁃    1 cup Honey Nut Cheerios = 269 mg
⁃    1/2 cup pudding = 470 mg
⁃    10 pretzels = 1,029 mg

•    Fast food. I knew it would have more sodium because it’s obviously processed, but this really makes me rethink my love for Taco Bell.
⁃    Cheeseburger = 1,108 mg
⁃    Egg & sausage biscuit = 1,141 mg
⁃    Large taco = 1,233 mg

Clearly we can’t just NOT eat any of these foods anymore. So here are really simple ways we can get around the high sodium problem until the food industry shapes up:
•    Limit the toppings. Get the dressing on the side, use unsalted butter if you have to use butter, and just leave extra sauce on your plate.
•    Get creative. Instead of lamenting your lack of sodium, you could be discovering an entirely new world of herbs and spices! Think garlic, vinegar, basil, cilantro, pepper, etc., which won’t put your tummy (literally) over the edge.
•    Pick fresh over processed foods…  Unsalted peanuts have 8 mg of sodium. Three oz. of steak has 55 mg of sodium. A plain baked potato has 5 mg of sodium. Yes, you can eat well sans salt. And if you need something pre-made, just look for the low sodium options.
•    Skip the fast food. There will be less salt if you just make yourself  – it’s just not worth it!

Whether you want to make these changes in the long run or not, you might need a quick fix. Maybe you’re about to catch some rays, go to a pool party later, or you’ve just annihilated a half a box of Cheez-Its while reading this article. Never fear. You can prevent and/or alleviate bloating by:
⁃    Eat fiber & probiotics. Eating fiber-rich foods like spinach and whole grains to help regulate your system. Also, anything with probiotics (like yogurt) help too!
⁃    Drink water! Not enough will definitely cause water retention, and drinking a little more than usual can help flush sodium out of your system.
⁃    Consume anti-bloat foods. Incorporating a mild diuretic like parsley or pineapple into your meals can ease bloating considerably. Bananas and chamomile tea are purported to ease symptoms as well.
Have you checked your labels lately? Which foods surprised you with their high levels of sodium?

Give Birth or Give Your Life?

Maternal mortality rates. How horrifyingly ironic.

In Sierra Leone, more than 1,033 women die for every 100,000 live births. In places like India, many little girls are forced to marry older men and then abused or forced to have children (more specifically, pressured to have boys) far before it is healthy for them to have another baby, or to have one at all. And in multiple areas of the world, it is considered taboo to have a baby in the hospital with proper medical care, rather than at home without any help at all.

It is ironic that, “while universally recognized as a milestone of womanhood, pregnancy and childbirth remain among the leading causes of death of women worldwide; every day, one woman per minute dies while giving birth or soon after. An additional 10 million to 15 million women suffer complications or injuries resulting from the act of giving life.”

The poor situations of millions of women and children everywhere prompted the Gates Foundation to give 1.5 billion dollars towards improving women and children’s health worldwide. The UN is in on it, as well. It’s all I can do not to go up to Ban Ki-Moon and thank him personally for making women’s health such a priority.

The solution is so simple that it’s pathetic. Education. All they need is to wait a few more years before giving birth. Or to know the benefits of medical care while giving birth. Or how and when to use birth control. Or to avoid being married off to a man who will not abuse them or pressure them to have more children so that they can have a son.

I realize that it is not that simple. But just working within these oppressive cultures can yield some positive results. We don’t have to change EVERYTHING, but we should be able to dramatically impact the suffering and death women around the world face while giving birth to new lives.

Read more about this issue here:

Motivational Stream of Consciousness

I felt compelled to write this letter to anyone that might need a bit of encouragement during this stressful time of year. Hope this helps you get through whatever you might be going through.

Hey, you.

Empowering thought: FREE WILL. We can strive for any goal we set. And what makes this striving so noble and valiant is the fact that it is YOU pushing and towards that noble and valiant goal or aim in life. Wait – – – is all of your hard work going towards a noble goal? Or is it a bit selfish now that you think about it? Is the work you are doing everyday fulfilling? What makes you happy? What scares you? Which one of these is the motive driving you everyday?

Take a moment and think about at least one thing you like about yourself. Think hard if you need to. Is it your good intentions? Your sense of humor? Your way with words or people? It can be anything. Have you used this skill or talent or trait of yours to help anyone else lately? Have you even used it to help yourself? How can you or have you benefited from this awesome stand-out trait of yours?

Now think of every person you’ve ever interacted with. Whether for better or worse, you were a part of those other people’s lives too. Would they remember you in a positive or negative light? How do you want to be remembered?

Look at yourself in a mirror. Notice the curves of your cheekbones and the color of your eyes. Not one other person has the same facial features as you. No one else has your exact mix of genes and DNA. Flex your hand. Feel the muscles tense and watch the veins ripple as you move your fingers. Marvel at the strength you have in just ONE hand. Now feel the strength in your whole body radiating and coursing through those veins. You are strong. You are brilliant. You are more than capable. You have willpower. You can live your life any way you want to. You have the determination to make anything and everything happen for yourself. No one else is living your life for you.

You’re making memories right now, as you’re reading this post. But what do you really want memories of? What do you daydream about? What makes you smile when other people aren’t watching? What stories do you want to tell your grandchildren? You want to live your life to the fullest, so what if this next breath of air you draw was your last? Would you be satisfied with your life?

Humans are practical. We do things with the future in mind. But life will pass you by if you put all of your hopes in a future that will never come. Life is beautiful because it’s temporary. You will only live this moment once, so LIVE IN THE PRESENT. Make this moment last, right now. Look around you. Where are you? What are you doing? What are you feeling? Is this really how you would ideally want to spend this moment?

Really, what’s stopping you from doing anything you set your mind to? What’s pulling you down, away from your goals in life? Do you have some goals yet? Should you make a few?

It’s so easy to get caught up in what life throws at you and the generally accepted way of doing things. If you love to travel, travel! If you want to learn everything there is to know, who’s stopping you? If you want to be happy, DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY. You are entitled to complete happiness. Everyday monotonously draws to a close, you work hard, and you start losing track of days, weeks… and then it all stops. The monotony ends in those blissfully happy moments when you feel engulfed by the dark blue blanket of stars in the night sky or help another person without a thought of  anything in return. When you feel a connection with someone who knows your flaws and loves you completely, or help someone else achieve a goal of their own, or lay on the grass and feel the warm sun on your face… these are the moments you will remember. These are the moments that can define you.

Stop waiting. Stop working tirelessly without a goal. Stop living without purpose. You are in control. You decide how to spend your time. You decide physically where to put your hand after it leaves your mouse or keyboard. You decide what to wear, what to believe in, and who to love. And you can decide what to do after reading this.

Sam Adams: Beer or Bro?

Imagine – you’re about to graduate from college. Future plans? Psh please. You’ve got an album out already! You rap about college life (the bros LOVE it), you’re captain of the college soccer team, you’ve got a record deal, your songs are #1 on iTunes, and oh yeah – you share a name with a great-tasting beer. Check Sam Adams out:

Let’s get one thing straight – I’m not huge on rap. I think the majority of Sam Adams’ success comes from the support of the new (at least to me) “bro-mmunity”. BroBible that, or let me explain it to you from my own observations.

Everyone knows a bro. They’re average-looking males in college who only talk about the sex they aren’t having/girls dumb enough to sleep with them (whom they then degrade), overused movie quotes, and getting blackout drunk enough to piss their own pants. I’m not even exaggerating. Although I think some parts of this new male adolescent sub-culture are pretty hilarious, I can’t help but be offended by a lot of  their terminology. I’m sure it’s in jest. (But if it’s not, then I really hope there are no bros elected to any position where they can have any impact/effect on well… anyone.)

The only females they interact with apparently don’t mind referring to themselves as “slampiece69” and have an IQ below that of an inanimate object. After slacking off at life for as long as possible, putting off STD treatment out of pure denial that “bros” can even get diseases, acting like they are the only people on their college campus worth knowing, and putting BRO in as many annoying BRO-tastic words as possible, its clear that bros just want to live the good life without regard to anyone else. Oh hey Sam Adams! I forgot this post was about YOU:

You can see that bros are crafting a new, even more impossible definition of what it means to be male in today’s society (as if there weren’t enough stereotypes in mainstream culture as it is). Otherwise, I think they’re pretty harmless. Aside from the few stupid people who actually take Ned’s Younger Brother’s advice seriously and act like “bros” in real life. But I don’t know one female who would tolerate being called a slampiece. Or one intelligent male who would use the term.

One thing bros are REALLY good for is amusement purposes. I can’t wait to see these lost bros eventually grow up! For as long as possible, I imagine they’ll find ways to avoid getting married and having a steady job. Then lo and behold, sometime after daddy’s money runs out, they’ll end up buying a van with extra storage underneath the seats and a home with a two car garage in the suburbs.

I can’t wait for the female counterpart to bros to become popular, if it ever does. Any idea of what the female equivalent of a bro would be?

I’d like to salute you, whoever showed me the double meaning of Sam Adams. Now I have the opportunity to confuse people with my copious amounts of cultural knowledge. “The beer? I love the beer! I just bought a six…OHHH, the bro rapper from Boston!” Double pow.