Social Wellness: What If?

Do you ever have those moments when you wonder “what if”? Of course, most people do. But what about those moments when you know that there is no what if, there is only action? Especially when their are friends involved? I got the joy of experiencing one of those moments this weekend while visiting in Kentucky. My main reason why I came back was because one of my old roommate got married this weekend plus it had been over a year since I left Kentucky and I missed my friends back in Kentucky. Anyway, while I was at the wedding and the reception was winding down and my other old roommate and I were getting ready to leave, the bride stopped by and expressed her genuine thanks for me traveling from Kansas to Kentucky for her wedding. There was never really a time when I thought, “oh I’m not going to go” but it was at that exact moment when I was recognized that there was never a what if question. I was going to be there at her wedding no matter what. And I recognize that we don’t always have that feeling when making a decision. We sometimes think that the decision we are making is the right one and realize that it wasn’t.

But I had more what if questions that I pondered while I was back. I wondered what my life would be like had I stayed in Kentucky-what job would I be working, what friends would I have, where would I live? But what good does asking what if do? What good does dwelling on a decision do? I think on one hand you can say that asking those what if questions could create a learning opportunity but on the other hand you just dwell on a decision that you cannot change.

What does what if have to do with social wellness? Not much, but this picture does



Congrats to Beth and Ross! And big thanks to Meghan for letting me crash on her couch and driving me around everywhere!

Environmental Wellness: Say What?

One of the most overlooked dimensions of wellness for me is environmental wellness. And it is not necessarily because I don’t do some bits of environmental wellness…I guess I just don’t remember to incorporate elements of environmental wellness into my lifestyle. Or I do things without thinking about it or it just happens to fall into environmental wellness…if that makes sense. So I walk to work not necessarily for environmental wellness, but mostly for physical and emotional/mental wellness.

This post is mostly spurred by my trip to Kentucky. While in Kentucky, I actually did a pretty good job of recycling. I had a box in my apartment and I would take recycling to the recycling center about every week and drop stuff off. It’s something I started doing my senior year of undergrad. Where I grew up, we got our recycling picked up at our house and so when I moved to my undergrad institution’s town (make sense?), I had to start taking my recycling in. Where I lived in Kentucky was the same thing-I had to take my recycling in to drop it off, so it makes the task a little bit “harder”.

Basically, I would like to get better at making sure I meet some of the needs of environmental wellness. And here’s my game plan.

  • Take reusable bags to grocery stores. Except that I usually use my plastic bags as trash can liners…sooo…I can take some reusable bags and just make sure I pick up a few of the plastic bags? Ok, now this is where it gets complicated because I always go to the u-scan/self scan aisle so I am good at not having a million bags…I cram as many groceries as possible into a bag and I use the plastic bags as trashcan liners and also when I go swimming to put my wet stuff in…so…should I use reusable bags? Let me know your thoughts. Seriously.
  • Continue walking to work at least 4 days a week. Bike and walk other places as much as possible (really I should only need my car when going grocery shopping and…yeah that should be it).
  • Wait! I’ll need my car when I take my recycling in! I’m going to start doing that again! That will cut down on my trash and maybe I won’t need as many plastic bags then!

This wasn’t really a to-do list. The other thing that I have been thinking about is replacing all my light bulbs with the energy efficient light bulbs-well as much as I can replace them.

What are some other good tips you have for meeting some of the needs in environmental wellness? Or do you think you meet those needs pretty well already? Why do you think it is important (or not) to value the environment?

Occupational Wellness: What is Motivation and How Do You Get It?

Determine what motivates you/drives you-passion/money/status/”that” feeling/sense of accomplishment, helping others, etc. Sure, everyone says find a job that you actually are happy going to work every day and it doesn’t feel like work. But how do you keep yourself motivated until you get there? Do you just hold onto the dream that working in a job that isn’t your “cup of tea” will someday get you to that end goal job/career? Or are there things that you can do in your current job that can motivate you and make you enjoy going to work now?

As a “recent” (I say recent as I attained my masters in May 2012) grad, I’m still looking for that job, that dream career I guess you could say makes me excited to go into work every day and I where I love the work that I do. I can’t tell you how many people would tell to hold out until that dream job came up. Actually, that’s a lie, I can tell you exactly how many people told me that. Z.E.R.O. Is that because the dream career is a thing of the past? Or is it something that we should educate students on more. You aren’t necessarily going to graduate college and BAM dream job, dream career, dream life. It might take a little bit more than that. You might have to gasp take a career that pays the bills as opposed to it feeding your soul (in full disclosure, that job may take some of your soul away with it at the same time, just be prepared for it).

So as we are in the work grind just trying to make it to the end goal and the dream career, what can we do right now, today that can make your job more “bearable” and help keep you motivated? There are no easy answers to be found in this post. As you will have probably figured out, this is not the blog you go to for answers. This is the blog you go to for questions, as in I ask a lot of them. But I think that it helps get you thinking about what is going to work for you. So here are my questions to you-thinking about your dream career-that career that instantly puts a smile on your face and gets you excited-what are some of the aspects of that career that you can implement into your current job now that can help keep you motivated? What are some of the little things that you can be doing now to keep on that track?

I’ll give some examples for me. I love to have a very regimented work day but my work tends to be fairly sporadic. So I make a to-do list to try and help myself keep more of a schedule and also on task. I also happen to be a stats nerd and so when I get to work on survey development and analysis of surveys, it’s always a good day. I find things that I love and incorporate them into my job. I also try and work on improving my transferable skills so that as I progress in my career, nothing I have done is considered a “waste of time”. You have to find out what is meaningful to you and how to make your job work for you.

What are some of your tips for keeping motivated?

Overall Wellness: Thank YOU!

I reached my first milestone/goal last night of hitting 100 followers on this blog and I want to thank you all for your support! And to thank you, I thought I would do a quick little giveaway! I will be giving away a new copy of the WellBeing book that I spoke about multiple times back in July/August! This will include a unique code so you can take the Wellbeing Finder and have access to Gallup’s wellbeing resources.

All you have to do to enter this giveaway is follow my blog and comment below what wellness means to you.

This giveaway is open until 10/1/13 and I will choose a winner on 10/2/13!

Thank you all so much for your support! And now, I’m off to Kentucky!

Physical Wellness: What’s the Worst that Can Happen?

This might be more of a mental wellness post, but it’s my blog and it came to me while I was swimming, so ergo…physical wellness. And insert the David the Scientist reference from Friends. No? No one else remembers this episode…just me…ok Vanessa, just move past it. Not everyone owns the box set of Friends and just watches it on repeat.

Anyway, last night I was waiting for the pool to open up and I was thinking through what I wanted my swim workout to be. I knew that I wanted it to be something quick because I needed to get home, shower, eat, and go watch das boy play softball but I still wanted it to be something challenging. Something that I have been thinking about every time I’m in the pool and especially as I approach the wall is incorporating flip turns into my workout. I will sometimes do one or I will work flip turns but I haven’t really worked it into my workout consistently. And that is mainly because I am terrified of messing up or not being able to complete the lap or just generally making a fool or myself. But last night I had this thought as I was approaching the line that I always make sure I take a breath at when doing flip turns. I just thought, “Well Vanessa, what’s the worst that is going to happen? You are going to make a fool of yourself? You already do that everyday on a fairly regular basis. Why not just try?” Obviously with swimming, the other thing that could happen is you know, you drown. But positive thinking people! Come on! (No but really, had this been my first week or even month swimming, that should have been a real concern. I knew that I would be safe and ok and I could make it, I just needed the push to do it.)

So, I got to the line and took my extra breath, got to the wall, did my flip turn and swam to the other end. I wish someone would have been around to capture my face! Because I’m sure I was beaming! About a month ago when I was really working on flip turns, I was in a different pool which is much smaller than the pool I am usually in and since I have moved back to my usual pool, I haven’t done a lap with flip turns. But the added bonus from last night was that after that lap, I kept doing the flip turns. While I was swimming, I let my mind wander a little bit (never too much when I’m swimming-the whole drowning thing) about what else am I holding myself back in my life? What else am I afraid to do because I’m worried I’ll look like a fool?

Did I just adopt a new life motto? It’s possible! I might start thinking more about, “Well, what’s the worst that is going to happen?” when trying something new or something that might make me look foolish. It’s worth a shot.

Occupational Wellness: Why Volunteer?

I always had this mentality about volunteering, especially during my undergrad. I never was able to really grasp the concept of working for free when I had a job that paid and I could work and make money. The idea of an unpaid internship was foreign to me. But, as I age and learn more about life, I’m starting to see how beneficial it is to donate your time and resources to help out. I’m excited to announce that I am participating in a leadership program but beyond that, I have also been asked to help with this program! When I spoke with the founder of this program on the phone she framed it in this way, “I have the life experiences, you have the education.” So I’m going to be going through this leadership program as a participant and then again as a researcher to help make modifications as well as adding to the program! I’m incredibly excited for this opportunity!

I’m of the school of thought that altruism does not exist. I do not believe that people do a good thing and expect nothing in return. Now, that can mean that what you expect in return is a simple thank you or that feeling you get from doing something good. But I do not believe that people just do something to do something. I believe that we do things with purpose. So by me going through this program as a researcher, I’m also gaining some experience and networking as well. But regardless, I’m very excited about this opportunity!

I’m not an expert at volunteering buy if you are interested in volunteering, my advice is this:  volunteer somewhere that has similar values to you. Volunteer somewhere that is going to have a good fit. Make sure that what you do, you do with passion, especially if you are volunteering. For some people, the only motivating factor in working is that they get paid. With volunteering, that motivating factor is gone, so make sure that you are at an organization that you are going to love what you are doing.

I’ll be travelling again this week! I’m heading out to Kentucky for a wedding!

Give some loving in the comments to my mom! It’s an unknown anniversary of her 29th birthday today!



Have a great week! I’ll try to make sure I’m a beast this week with my blog posts and get stuff queued up so that when I’m travelling there is still CONTENT and MATERIALS and general loveliness on here 🙂

Intellectual Wellness: Do You Know?

I’m a bit conflicted. Part of me loves to know what is going on in the world-reading the news, listening to podcasts, watching the news, etc. I like to be well educated in what crack-a-lackin’ in the world, the US, and the various states and towns I have graced my presence with over the past 25 years. But then part of me just gets sad knowing all the news because so much of the news is negative. I know my mom and some other people take the, “I don’t pay attention to the news because it is too depressing” route. But then I hate not knowing what is going on in the world.

The past couple of weeks I have traded out listening to my favorite Pandora station (which happens to be “The Cold War Kids”) and taken to listening to the BBC’s 24 hour news “podcast”/live streaming news radio station. I choose the BBC because it reports on world news, not just local news, and I feel like they are less…biased. Which is my other issue with being “in the know” of news. I cannot stand that news stations have a political stance. I feel like the news should always be unbiased. Just tell me exactly what happened without trying to distort my view. I would much rather be given the news and the facts and then let myself make a decision. Perhaps that is a different rant for a different day.

What are your thoughts? Do you like to keep up with the news? Any favorite news sources that you feel give really factual news? Like I said, I listen to the BBC, I also like to read theSkimm which is a pretty brief-to-the-point-this-is-what-is-happening-and-they-also-have-a-really-nice-writing-style type of deal.  theSkimm sends you an email every morning (I get mine around 5:30 am CST) M-F. Both are my favorite sources of fairly factual news. If you lean more on the “progressive” side and are anti-guns, inothernews is a actually a fairly good blog that does a similar thing as theSkimm and gives a kind of “quick hits” of the news. But be warned, inothernews is definitely anti-gun and pro-gun control so if you have differing views on that, you may be less likely to like his blog. But I like him because he has opinions (similar to mine) and isn’t afraid to state them AND back them up. But he also gives good insight to other news stories.

As a disclaimer, none of these services have asked me to promote them (let’s be real, I’m a new blogger, no one is asking me to promote anything), these are just news sources that I have found that I like.

Please feel free to share ones that you like! I love to know!

Social Wellness: Do You Make the Time?

So in all the craziness that has been going on in my life, I have completely forgotten that I will be in Kentucky next week! I did my master’s degree in Kentucky and I am going back because one of my old roommates is getting married. Which means I also get to go back and reconnect with the people that helped me find my passion in wellness. I will be seeing old professors and my old co-workers and just in general getting to go back to a state which I associate a lot of happiness with.

It’s important to make time for the people in your life that have made an impact. It’s important to let those people know how much you appreciate them being in your life and having that positive impact. I am definitely guilty of neglecting those relationships but it is important as you move forward in your life and your career, that you remember some of those people that helped you get there. People grow apart and things change, but even a simple Facebook wall post/message can be really nice just to let them know you were thinking of them. It would be crazy to think that you will remain close friends with everyone that you have been friends with throughout your life but it is always nice when you get a “blast from the past” and touch base with someone you were once close with. I’ll admit that I feel like I struggle a lot with holding on to friends and I second guess myself when friends stop talking to me. So perhaps it means more to someone like me to hear from an old friend.

Basically the point of this post is that I’m going to be in Kentucky next week and you should (whoaaaaaaaaa! did I really just say the “s” word?) make time to reach out to an old friend and just do a quick “check-in”.

Overall Wellness: Why Do Dreams Matter?

Hi. This is a post that has no research to back it up, just personal opinions. So…yup. Sometimes I do these types of posts…

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw an article from Thought Catalog that just made me think back on my dreams. My goals and my ambitions for myself, both professionally and personally. And it got me to thinking, why do dreams matter? I get that they matter in a sense of direction that you take your life and setting goals (or that could just be the analytical side in me), but why do they matter in your life? How many people really achieve their dreams? We hear stories about so and so overcoming all the odds and making their dreams happen, but what about the others? What about the people who are still chasing their dreams but will probably never catch them? What propels them to keep chasing? What makes dreams so powerful? Is it because it gives you that internal motivation to do something/be something/be somewhere/etc that you love to your core?

I mean really, how many people just in your life have you known that have said all they want to do is live in New York City? I see this quote pop up all the time on tumblr about just give me a small apartment, just enough to live off of and insert dream here (usually it is to live in NYC or to be a writer). What is it about a dream that makes a person believe that they will be inherently happy once the dream is achieved and they can throw everything else out the window. They just need the basics, the necessities and they will be fine. But the problem with that is there is no definition of the necessities. No definition of just enough money to get by. Do you mean just enough money to pay the bills and that’s it? Because research definitely suggests otherwise that having more than “just enough to get by” actually does increase happiness. (Just to be clear, money does not equal happiness but stability and more specifically financially stability does.)

Do we live in a too whimsical world that believes that magical things can just happen? When does having a healthy does of reality help out? Or should be keep our dreams alive and keep chasing them relentlessly?

Or should I stop asking a million questions 🙂

Emotional Wellness: How To Improve?

Washington Post and HuffPo hands down have some of the BEST wellness news articles for me. I was reading about emotional wellness this morning in THIS article on how to improve your emotional wellness. I spoke…many times last week about how I was having a slew of bad things just come at me (my car is in the shop for the third time in two months today!). So this article immediately caught my attention. And do you want to know why? Because even though it is “5 habits” to use to improve your emotional wellness, it is essentially one thing.

When life knocks you down…Get. Back. Up.  When you fail, learn from it. When you lose, find meaning in the loss. Pick yourself back up from rejection (something I struggle a lot with). But everything basically boils down to when life knocks you down, figure out how to pick yourself back up again. Don’t let it knock you down for too long. Learn from the knocks, the hard-times, the failures, and all the negatives. Turn those negatives into positives. I used this example in my essay for grad school. When I started off in college, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my life. I had everything planned out (I’m planner, it’s what I do). And in one semester (my first semester), one class took my plan that I had carefully been cultivating for at least two years and threw it out the window. I failed Macroeconomics. Which, seeing as I was a business major (marketing actually) is kind of a big thing to fail. So I, always a strong student, sat down as I looked at my dismal report card. In my first semester of college, I lost my academic scholarship and was being warned that I was about to be put on academic probation. I looked at my report card, saw that my highest grade was in psychology, and I went full force and never looked back. I graduate in 3 1/2 years and took my GPA from a 1.69 to just below a 3.00 (2.98). My GPA was not what got me into grad school. Rather it was showing that I learned from that failure and I was able to persevere and go past it. And in case you were wondering, I graduated with a 3.74 (or something like that) with my master’s degree.

What I’m saying isn’t new or revolutionary. But it is a reminder that life was never meant to be easy. And the true test of one’s character isn’t necessarily how they handle things in the good times, but rather how they handle things when life knocks them down and how they pick themselves back up again.