When I was a little girl, my mom would help me take out my loose baby teeth by tying dental floss around my tooth and the door knob and then slamming the door. It may sound intense or painful but it was actually quick and painless, like taking off a bandaid! It was a thrill, a testament to growing older, and initiation into becoming a "big girl" with "adult teeth."
My teeth grew in straight for the most part, but I had some crowding on my bottom teeth that made flossing extremely painful, and my two big teeth on the top were crooked (see photo above). It was noticeable, and I was always insecure about it, as peers were flaunting their braces and eventually their straight teeth. I never got braces as an aftermath of my parents' divorce, and my dad refused to consider Invisalign, and later Smile Direct Club, because he thought they were more expensive (SDC was and still is significantly cheaper than braces, although Invisalign is not).
When I was 19 years old I decided to get my teeth fixed myself. I knew I didn't want braces, and Smile Direct Club was an easy choice because of how convenient they are. I went to a local Smile Shop and had impressions and photos taken with a very fancy camera. They also offer at home impression kits that cost $30, and once you send back the kit and your impressions, they refund you the $30. They told me a 3D printer would create all of my aligners for the next 6 months, and afterwards I would pay $100 and receive my retainers that are meant to be worn 24/7 for two weeks, and then only 10 hours a day after the two weeks.
Mu aligners arrived within a week of my appointment in a big purple box. I don't have the box anymore or a picture, but it was aesthetically pleasing and came with free gifts such as teeth whitening gel and LED lights in the shape of a standard mouth, quote cards, and chapstick. The aligners were neatly wrapped and clean. Every week I recycled my previous aligners and wore the new ones all of the time, minus when I was eating. I brushed my teeth in between each meal and began to experience pain free flossing. It was really interesting to see my teeth move, and about 3 months in I noticed a significant difference.
After the 6 months was complete, I order my retainers and was on my way. After the two weeks, I began leaving the retainers at home and only wearing them at night. To my surprise, my teeth would begin to shift back after only a few hours without my retainers in. I had heard of this happening before, but did not believe that it would happen to me. But I was humbled, because it did and I needed to fix the problem.
My dentist had no suggestions, as invisible aligners are relatively new. Smile Direct Club recommended that I wear my retainers 24/7, as I did with my aligners, for 6 weeks. I did so, but nothing changed. I struggled with this throughout 2020, and when it was safe to go, I saw my dentist again and discussed options with him. Since the aligners and retainers worked but did not provide me lasting results, my dentist suggested seeing an orthodontist. I have not been yet, but according to my dentist, my options are braces for 2-3 months, or a permanent retainer in my mouth.
I'm a little disappointed. I paid $1700 for the treatment and $100 for retainers, and wore them correctly for almost a year (longer than the 6 months that they guarantee), just for my teeth to move back to where they were before, crooked, within a matter of hours.
I can't honestly say that I recommend their product and services. They seem to have helpful and knowledgeable customer service representatives and orthodontists. They clearly care about creating a seamless process for their customers as well. Unfortunately, their product just simply doesn't work the way that they advertise that it will. There is no guarantee, unlike what they promise on their website, coined "Lifetime Smile Guarantee."
With that being said, everyone's mouth is different and it is unfair and illogical to give everyone the same 6 month treatment when we all have different situations happening in our mouths. So just because it didn't work for me longterm doesn't mean it won't for you. Simply put, it is something to go into with caution if this is the route you choose to take to straighten your teeth.
Unlike my experience, there are some patients who had worse outcomes such as migraines and dental issues that did not exist beforehand. There are also many patients complaining of the same issues that I have and am experiencing (straightened teeth don't stay straight). These issues have turned into lawsuits, which can be explored with the following resources:
To sum it up, choose wisely or stick to your current smile.
June 30 was my last day working as a preschool teacher. I’ve spent the last year pouring into 23 children, trying to teach them all that they needed to know while also showing them love and support as we navigated the pandemic together. It was a surreal experience, and a role I never imagined myself in. And even though the early childhood education system will most likely never see me again, it’s been an adventure that I am tremendously grateful for, and most definitely will never forget.
The children were my teachers, just as I was theirs. It may sound like a cliche but when teachers say that their students teach them more than they teach their students, they’re right! I never expected to learn so much from the children but they have taught me incredibly valuable lessons, while also being an escape, a safe place, as we were dealing with the pandemic, a rocky election, and some of the first visible effects of climate change.
What I find even more fascinating is that the humanity and adoration these children expressed is very similar to how we as adults express ourselves. We really don’t change all that much, we just learn bigger words and how to think about our own thoughts.
We really don't change all that much, we just learn bigger words and how to think about our own thoughts
With that being said, I’d like to share what my three year old teachers taught me, since their presence in my life has changed me permanently, for the better.
Children, and humans in general, are loving and understanding naturally. Even if they don't fully understand, they are still forgiving.
The true nature of the children was always happy and curious. Of course they each were their own individual so the extent of that curiosity wasn’t always the same (and some friends had more anxiety than others) but overall they each were thrilled to learn something new (whales and snakes were their favorites). They were always high on life and I could tell that everything was beautiful to them. They deserved to see and experience the world in that manner as well. A majority of them never hit unprovoked, protected our garden and animals, and gave each other gifts. They drew pictures for each other and usually negotiated the shared materials fairly well on their own. When an incident did occur, such as one friend hitting another, I would sit down with them both and we would discuss why our feelings were hurt. Usually it was a simple miscommunication and once we sorted it out, they would apologize to each other and hug before continuing to work together.
This experience mimicked many of my own miscommunications and disagreements in my adult life. Once myself and the other party discussed what happened through our lens and how we felt, we were able to understand each other, forgive and move forward. The children were better at this than many adults I’ve met! It was astounding in an incredible way, and showed me that really we all desire to be seen and understood and respected and that it’s easy to give and receive this if you pause for a moment and just listen to the other person.
Children are healthy communicators when given the correct guidance.
Similar to the first point, the children surprised me many times by their innate ability to compromise and clearly state their feelings. They were usually curious about how others felt too, and they never ever wanted to cause problems or hurt their other friends. But of course, the five year old cannot be left to fend for themself, so I would step in when necessary and guide them through their emotions and help them find the words they needed to express their thoughts. Although usually simple since they were so young, they actually used the guidance and words that I gave them when I wasn’t present in the conversation. They were using their natural ability to compromise and then adding other communication aids that I had provided to effectively maintain and build friendships, socially interact with new friends who came into the classroom, and to solve interpersonal problems that came up. It was incredible. They were really good at it with the right guidance, even more than myself sometimes! And most certainly better than adults. I hope that this is something I have given them that will follow them throughout their lives, and become the mental equivalent of tying a shoe.
It has been revealed to me that I am... a little judgemental.
I had never been a preschool teacher before being hired at my workplace during the pandemic. There were many things I didn’t know, and although I had some experience with children and a degree in their development, nothing could have ever prepared me for what being a teacher is like (spoiler alert: most of the job sucks). One of the very first things I realized is that perhaps I am a little quick to judge others. I would judge them for not putting their shoes on the right feet sometimes or for not knowing how to button their pants or use the soap dispenser (which really bothered me since I was doing everything I could to prevent the spread of germs). After however long, I don’t remember exactly, it dawned on me that they needed to be taught these things. These little actions are so simple and we as adults take them for granted because of their simplicity, therefore we forgot what it was like to not know. What comes as second nature for a grown up is extremely challenging for a toddler. I felt immensely guilty for my irritation after realizing this and always tried to show them kind and gentle instructions with more intention and care after the fact since before I was lacking the understanding and intention that they needed. Soon they ended up taking me for granted (haha!) but it didn’t bother me; I was grateful to be a constant during such important years of their life, in such uncertain and scary times. Perhaps I took them for granted too, because it was only a job until they became my safe space during times that were uncertain and scary for me too. We needed each other throughout the entire time we were together. They were there for me without even knowing, which is another aspect of the experience I hold gratitude for.
We all need and deserve the space to make mistakes. It expands our capacity to be understanding, kind, and forgiving.
The children oftentimes made mistakes. From not listening to directions and missing the learning goal of the activity, to breaking materials and costing the company money. And I often make mistakes in my life too, such as applying for a teaching position when I knew before I even finished college that I didn't want to be a teacher. But every time we make a mistake, we gain valuable knowledge about ourselves and the world and are able to maneuver new territory with more tools in our toolbelt that can help lead us to success and contentment.
I quickly learned that becoming angry or irritated when the children made mistakes didn't actually teach them anything. Every time they objectively failed, it was an opportunity to teach them something. Of course they are small children and some lessons didn't stick and there were many times where some children and I would be having the same discussions on a regular basis (there was one child who purposefully killed insects and butterflies despite multiple times of many teachers telling him that was wrong and not okay). But there was such beauty in their growth, and my own, when moments of failure or disappointment could be used to teach them how to do better next time. And just like grown ups, the children always wanted to do the right thing but they couldn't if they didn't know what that was.
Their emotional capacity, understanding of relationships and social norms, kindness towards others, and empathy grew every time I took a breath and gave these things to them. Most times I attempted to take advantage of learning experiences, there were positive changes seen afterwards. This mindset can be applied to grown ups too. There is always room for growth, we can do better in some areas, and in terms of employment and interpersonal relationships, being given the space to make mistakes allows us to grow our capacities in understanding, kindness, and forgiveness for ourselves and others.
Working as a preschool teacher during one of the most challenging times we have ever been through was nothing short of a trial, but there were many moments of joy, love, appreciation, and growth. These invaluable lessons have blessed my own life, and I hope the insight and unconditional love that the children gave me can be spread throughout all of my interactions. And now yours too, after reading this piece on the precious life lessons from three year olds.
One of the many tricky things about being depressed or perhaps even just feeling down and out is the icky sticky loneliness that comes with it, weighing you down like a ton of bricks and laughing upon the thought of trying to reach out or meet someone new. It is more than challenging to muster up the energy required to interact with people when this is the current state of mind you find yourself in, whether from the grips of a seemingly never ending pandemic or mental health lapses that existed before hand.
Speaking from experience, the last thing I ever wanted to do when I experienced my lowest mental health point was communicate with others and socialize, despite how “good for me” my family and therapist said it would be. In my own experience, it felt as though the rug underneath every area of my life had been swept out from under my feet and I desired nothing more but my last breath. Fortunately I’m still breathing, and all of the time spent alone and with my therapist lead me to the mirror, where day after day, I slowly started to enjoy my own company. I eventually became my own friend; my own best friend. The unintentional growth has allowed me to find the joys in all of the pieces of myself, and see how these pieces create all of me, and provided me the space to meet and get to know the pieces that I didn’t like so much. Sometimes called shadow work, allowing all of myself to come into full view, freely loving each part, and accepting the full picture helped to make it all makes sense.
Being a friend to yourself is arguable more challenging than being a friend to another human. You are with yourself literally 24/7 and know what you are experiencing and how it is making you feel. Even if you may need help describing or understanding these things, you know what is happening from every angle that has been revealed to you. With that being said, it is harder to be your own friend because it is hard to know what to tell yourself to do to keep going, or what the right move may be when finding yourself at a fork in the road. And sometimes, it's even harder to start being alone and intentionally giving yourself the space to learn about who you are at your mountain tops and in your valley lows.
Intentionality is key when beginning to spend more quality time with yourself. Regardless of your current mental space, it is of utmost importance that the intentional quality time is usually spent alone. Of course, too much isolation is unhealthy so do find a balance. Sometimes, just setting a boundary and saying no an outing when you don’t feel up to it is enough time to commit to yourself or begin to learn about oneself. And other times only having the energy to socialize or connect at places you have to be present, such as the workplace, is enough as well.
When you go internal rather than external, you can find value in yourself based on your own way that you perceive. The joys and gems within you that you discover on your own are priceless, so much more valuable than anything that someone else can gift you or love about you. You’ll always be there with you and there is always a slim chance that that other person won’t.
When going internal, I found that the aspects of myself that I valued the most were the things that brought me joy without another’s input, such as music. It was great to be able to express my self in this way that connects all parts of you into one ~thing~. I also discovered that what others disliked about me and shared about me were sometimes the things I really enjoyed about myself. This was a great lesson in healing, as my worth was not determined by my relationships, and especially not those relationships that were toxic or unhealthy.
To begin being your own friend, it may be a good idea to discover what your love language is. There are 5 Love Languages, according to Gary Chapman which include quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, and acts of service. Everybody relates to all of them and enjoys all of them, but we all have 1-2 prominent love languages. My strongest one is words of affirmation (no surprise there) and my second prominent one is quality time. Taking the quiz is free and only about 10 minutes long. Be honest in your answers and after receiving your results, try to treat yourself in the way that you naturally give and receive love. If your love language is receiving gifts, for example, buy yourself something nice or that you’ve been desiring for awhile because you deserve it!
It is important though to remember to spend quality time alone with yourself. Activities that you can do with yourself are vast, but I found that journaling, listening to music and making music and playlists, film photography, working out, yoga, running this website, and reading helped me to learn about myself and grow a deeper relationship with myself. Journaling allowed me to track my mental health and was a physical representation of the growth that I was currently experiencing. Creating music was a healthy outlet, even if I didn’t record what I played. Listening to music and making playlists gave my life a soundtrack, and I learned about my tastes. I accepted when artists didn’t resonate with me anymore and found joy in discovering new artists that I enjoyed, along with their messages. Film photography was and is a fun hobby. I feel like any hobby that brings you joy is a good place to start. I never call myself a “photographer” because I noticed that once the labels existed, it took the joy out the experience. If you can find some activity or hobby that brings you joy without placing pressure on yourself or trying to make money with the hobby, the full effects of this suggestion will be felt. Working out at the gym and yoga were amazing ways to spend time with myself and be my own friend because I was consciously caring for my body and spending time with my home in an intentional manner. Exercise also increases your dopamine levels, so it is the best way to give yourself more energy throughout the day and increase your happiness hormones, which may be lacking if you are struggling socially. Just like film photography, reading is another hobby that brings joy for me without any pressure.
Despite the activities that one may choose to do while being their own friend, the intention behind the activities and time spent is where the true benefits of forming a friendship with yourself come from. Ask yourself “Do I like this?” “Do I enjoy this?” “What does this show me about me?” For example, when taking photos with my film camera, I was able to recognize my ability to focus and concentrate, and I grew to appreciate and value the way in which I view the world around me, because I was photographing the aspects of my life that I found beautiful or wanted to remember.
Another great practice to incorporate into forming a friendship with yourself is positive affirmations, or love notes to yourself. This practice is pretty easy too. Grab a sticky note and a pen and write a love note to yourself, then leave it somewhere you will see it. I leave notes for myself and my partner on the mirror and inside the medicine cabinet. I also use Canva to make my own wallpapers for my phone that have positive affirmations such as “I learn and integrate all of the lessons given to me” and “I am safe in all of my relationships.” In the past, my notes said things like “I am not stagnant.” Other positive affirmations can sound like “I am in charge of my life” and “I am choosing happiness today.”
It may sound or feel weird to act and call yourself your own friend. But essentially, it is a practice of respecting and valuing yourself. You will learn about your likes and dislikes, the “why” behind many aspects of your life, your natural boundaries, and the qualities and actions that you value in yourself. These values are important, because you are important. Being your own friend will in turn make it easier to be a friend to others, and the negative self talk will slowly begin to diminish. It is a golden practice of love and breeds gratitude, contentment, and deeper relationships with those around you, old and new.
About 3 months ago I decided I was going to release my tendencies to be a perfectionist in all of my endeavors. In the classic perfectionists mindset, I thought that once I eliminated this perceived character flaw that I would be a better, more perfect, version of myself. The journey has been nothing short of a quake, that has ruptured my entire idea of my psyche and lead me to myself, once more.
I decided to harness the energy of the New Moon to aid me in my venture. I began my New Moon ritual by saying a prayer, cleansing the space, journaling my intentions and then I ended it by using my sound bowls. For a few short weeks following this night, I began increasing my gratitude practice naturally, and felt significantly more grounded throughout the day. During this time issues between my employer and I began to arise as I noticed how disrespectful she was towards me, in addition to her lack of communication negatively affecting my ability to perform my job. I began to really struggle, and our interactions together highlighted my issues with perfectionism and all of the ways that I tend to overwork myself and bend my boundaries in order to meet their expectations. I slowly realized that my perfectionist tendencies were tied to many other aspects of my life, including how I viewed myself.
I never really felt like I had low self esteem until I began this venture. I look back at my life and see my inner child wounds, which help me to understand my current wounds and the cycles around them. Now I can see that oftentimes there is a correlation between lower levels of self esteem and the overachieving archetype that perfectionism subscribes too. I too fell into this trap, in part due to my childhood.
I slowly realized that my perfectionist tendencies were tied to many other aspects of my life
After the realization and acknowledgement, I was feeling a little bit of a spark, for the first time really since before the pandemic. I decided that I was not going to actively work on any kind of self growth, and instead I started to do things that I always knew were me but had stopped doing, like drinking tea instead of coffee and coining phrases for the eras of my life and creating a sound track to go with it. I coined this era “digging,” because I was digging to remove what no longer served me so that I may ground myself and assert my presence. At the time, I thought I would develop some miracle confrontational attitude and always stand up to those who questioned me. I believed I would instantly understand my boundaries and ensure that everyone was respectful of them.
Of course that did not happen. Instead, by simply being myself without judgement, I began to notice my own patterns. I noticed that I was adaptable, creative, flexible, and possess an open mind. I always put my best into what I did, and paid great attention to detail when I had the space to do so. I also noticed that I had a tendency to be a bit judgmental when I felt threatened and that I had a challenging time opening up with loved ones in detail about specific aspects of my life, such as mental health (“I shouldn’t be struggling anymore!”). I also utilized my vision board, began drinking tea again, and decided that my education was more important than my current career, as it was unfulfilling to me while my trade school education was not. In these small practices of self care and mindfulness, I began to notice the aspects of myself that I despised were oftentimes my biggest strengths.
Finally, I understood that I could not please everyone. I realized this with my boss first, when her expectations contradicted themselves and I was unintentionally being set up for failure, in addition to beginning to really dislike my work. In reflection, this lesson highlighted itself in the different and oftentimes changing expectations that different bosses, teachers, parents, and friends had overtime. Although it may sound obvious to most it finally became ingrained in my mind that I can’t be everything to everybody. What a freeing lesson this is!
Aspects of myself that I despised were oftentimes my biggest strengths
My tenderness, my sensitivity, my attention to detail, the ability to adapt and be flexible as change occurs, all of these were immensely positive attributes that I was not able to see before when I thought that I was always failing myself and those around me. These things that I’m now embracing about myself are aspects that all perfectionists possess! Now, when faced with a task or a new venture, I know that as long as I do my best and give a healthy amount of my effort without compromising my values, then I am succeeding, even if someone else disagrees with me.
Are you a recovering perfectionist too? What mindful activities help you to be grounded and empathetic towards yourself?
Every day we make choices, both large and small. Deciding to eat out or order in, choosing to wear blue jeans over black jeans, beginning or ending a relationship, or perhaps whether you and your partner are ready to take a bigger step and move in together are common choices that most of us have or will face at some point in our lives.
The power of being able to choose, which can also be called free will, is one of the most powerful gifts that we as humans possess. Although there are consequences to some choices, we can essentially do whatever it is that we please with our time and free will. But with great power comes great responsibility.
I recently found myself at a point where I had a choice to make that was rather important. My decision has defined my life for the last 10 months and will continue to for the next year and a half at least. At my workplace, a woman walked out and quit her job on her first day after only 2.5 hours, leaving behind 12+ children with no teacher and only me to watch over them and their education until someone else took her place. And like a blue jay, my boss walked in and offered me a promotion, since I was going to be in the classroom with the children every day anyways. It was convenient. I was already going to be there, the children and I already had developed a relationship, and the pay raise would be beneficial since my partner and I had recently decided to move in together. I was told that the required training would be self paced, and this lead me to believe that it would not interfere with my choice to attend massage therapy school and earn my MT and HHP license/certificates.
After sharing the news excitedly with my loved ones, and sleeping on the idea before making my decision, I accepted a promotion at work and am now the lead teacher for a classroom of 20+ children, ages 3-5. This is quite the responsibility if I do say so myself. It's a responsibility that I chose to take on, in my own free will. But again, I made this decision because it was convenient. The journey so far has been nothing like how I thought it would be. The required training is not self paced, and the job itself is much more draining on all levels than I was anticipating. There is an expectation that I should be working outside of my work hours, as most teachers unfortunately have to do, and the pay raise means little when I have to purchase materials for the classroom myself.
Despite having the choice to take on these responsibilities and commitments, and regardless of all of the logically "good" reasons to accept the position, it was made out of perceived convenience rather than good faith in the known and unknown.
Our choices define our reality. Generally speaking, we are able to create the reality we want, and choose whether or not the parameters we were born into will define us. My current reality is a full plate with all the leafy greens and vegetables (ya know, the good stuff) falling off the edges because there is not enough space on the plate or in my belly for them. I had to make a choice about whether or not I wanted to spend time writing this or studying. As much as I have gained from this experience (endless love from children!), I cannot help but mourn the time I feel like has been robbed from me, that I now cannot give to myself or my passions because I have too many commitments to external entities.
When presented with a contract, physically or otherwise, focusing on the pros and just glancing at the cons is not always a safe idea. Accepting something at face value often leads to disappointment. It is in our best interest to exercise our free will in a manner that of course does not hurt others, but also does not hurt or hinder our own health and growth. This is why perceived convenience is not always the easiest route. So how do we navigate through life using our ability to choose in a healthy manner?
Think It Through
Although thinking through the decisions you are presented with may seem obvious, when approached with a choice that is large and will affect your life for a significant amount of time, it should be completed with intention rather than impulsion. "I'm going to sleep on it," means more than thinking about the choices you have (currently or in the past) and then deciding in the morning upon waking. It is more along the lines of establishing the pros and cons and weighing how impactful each pro and con is. My therapist taught me this trick, to give each item on each list a number between 1 and 10 to weigh how heavy each item. The pros and cons themselves should not determine the choice, but how meaningful each pro and con is to you in your life.
In addition to being thoughtful and intentional in terms of using your ability to choose, it would be wise to take into consideration the thoughts and opinions of those that love and care for you. Perhaps your parents, partner, friends, and others can give some insight into whether or not you are walking into the future with your shoes buckled tightly.
Ask Questions - even the silly ones
Asking questions is truly the only way to receive clarity in any situation. Occasionally, I ask questions that raise eyebrows and the response insinuates that perhaps the question I asked, or just me, may be lacking something in the common sense area. I stand true to myself and do not let these ideas from other people determine my worth in this setting, because it would be much worse to assume that something is a certain way when in reality it is not.
Asking questions regardless of how silly, stupid, jaw dropping, or embarrassing they may be is the only certain way to ensure that you know what you are getting yourself into before agreeing to anything (of course if there is transparency on the other end as well).
Stand in your truth and ask the questions burning in your brain so that you may receive the answers you need to take the actions you desire.
Venture Outside the Source
My partner taught me this trick, not in his words but in his actions. When he was job hunting he ran everything companies told him into the internet to confirm whether they were true or not. I wish that I had done the same, but I value the lesson that his unending wiseness taught me.
Resources such as other blogs, glassdoor reviews, and simple Google searches can help you make a decision regarding job hunting, where to start or complete your education, and obviously so much more.
Don't Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You
When the promotion to become lead teacher was presented to me, I was ecstatic. I was absolutely thrilled and felt very proud of myself for establishing myself as a trustworthy employee, and for being perceived as a good fit to care for the children in the classroom. My eagerness to succeed and please overtook my logical and critical thinking abilities for the day, that night, and the next morning when I accepted the position. I should have followed my own advice and really thought everything through, and not neglected my commitment to my education.
I let my emotions get the best of me, and while I don't necessarily regret where I am now, I would change a few things if it were possible for me to go back and do so. But that's how things are sometimes, and dwelling serves no higher purpose, therefore I am taking the experience for what it is and moving forward. It is my hope that reading this will inspire someone after me to take more caution in their next big decision making venture.
Listen to Your Intuition
If there is anything of value in this post, it is this piece: listen to your intuition. The little voice in the back of your head, the feelings in your belly when new information is presented, the sensation in your limbs when something magical (or not) appears, and in some communities your "higher self," is the one true guidance that should always be followed and cannot be shattered by anyone else. Follow your gut. Do what you believe to be right with clear intentions. Keep your intuition in a sacred place and allow it to lead you, regardless of the destination, through all of your choices, both big and small.
As humans, we have the power to make our own choices. Nothing is set in stone; there is no blueprint. We are able to use our free will to determine where we want to be in our lives. Let's navigate throughout life using our ability to choose responsibly and with clear intention, regardless of how large or simple our decisions coming up may be.
Using any of these tips currently? Have any life altering decisions on your plate? Let's chat about it in the comments below!
My blog, currently known as Oath of a Pearl, has grown and shifted into something truly beautiful that does so as I do. I am so proud of my creative baby and want to share more about it and the creative pursuits it holds, as it’s story is interesting and organic (if I do say so myself!).
OOAP’s original URL was arheaofsunshine.weebly.com . Rhea is my sister’s name, and when she was born I coined the phrase “a Rhea of sunshine,” because she was and is a ray of light in our little area of the world. The site was created as a way for me to explore my writing styles and address many aspects of my life as I was navigating through healing and therapy. The blog was never for anyone besides myself, but seemed to really take off on Twitter and in my circle of friends and acquaintances. It was the first time in my life I made something all for myself with no intention of gaining anything from anyone else. I received positive feedback, closer relationships, wisdom, fuel when I was low, and the aliveness that life only gives in the satisfaction of creating something you’re proud of.
Everything changed when I published my book. That felt more serious. I was putting myself out there significantly on the original site. I really liked writing about myself and it really helped me to understand myself. But the poetry I wrote had a different process and a different intention when I was writing it. I wrote for the blog for pleasure and I wrote poetry because i felt like i had to create something. I think that’s an artist thing. But regardless when i was feeling something, or really had to get something out of my chest, i would write poems and lyrics. I would sing and listen to music. I danced alone in my room occasionally as well. But i would create something. The blog was when i made the event beautiful in my language and silver linings. The poem was made while the event took place. It was more raw and real.
It was unfortunate to publish my book in March of 2020. I truly believed the lockdown would be over by May. I did my part in staying safe. And didn’t receive unemployment for over a month after applying. I saw my book as a way to make money, which I needed. I saw my website, now with a new name, as a business venture. I just really thought that it would take off and I could make a little money. I thought that the people who promised to buy my book would actually purchase it when it came out. I think influencers and other people with thousands of followers were inspiring me. Looking back, I was desperate and tried to create a brand out of my book. Coincidentally, I lost my creative spark at the same time. So even though I was writing blog posts, they quickly became less about things I put my heart into and about what i thought people wanted to hear.
I blamed my lack of engagement on the name change. That may play a part but majority reason is that I became less authentic. Art is about being authentic. My poetry is authentic. My early writing is authentic. Negative comments were only received as I got better and started seeing the effects of therapy in my life.
What I’m trying to say is, all i want to do is live completely authentically. Before i began writing tonight i would have said to heal my relationship with creativity. I don’t know if it’s even about that. It’s just about being myself, and eventually being myself unapologetically. So yeah. Fun facts about my website :)
Every year like clockwork, society begins to speculate about the hope that the new year will bring in. We take a few days, usually between December 26 through 31st, to reflect on the last year and think about what we hope to cultivate moving forward. I feel like for most people, and definitely in most capitalist environments, I hear of resolutions related to better health and physique; starting that business; starting and/or finishing school, and more. And again like clockwork, these resolutions are found down the drain by February, floating away in the stream of failed attempts. "I'll try next year," we say.
Instead of trying next year, or refraining from trying at all, a simple shift in perspective can help us take the leap of faith into a new venture with hope and perseverance. May I introduce to you, SMART Goals (Doran 1981).
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Resourced, and Time. Essentially, the aspects of this acronym all work together in harmony to help goals look and feel achievable while still being manageable and adaptable with life's ups and downs. Essentially, this means it is possible to lose weight, live a healthier lifestyle, or start that business without the passion and motivation that leaves us like a cold breeze in spring.
Below are the details of each part of the SMART acronym, as written and introduced to me by my therapist. It is my intention that these ideas aid in helping those who use them to create goals that help them live more authentically and in alignment with who they want to be. Don't forget to share your own SMART goals in the comments below! Without further ado....SMART GOALS
SPECIFIC: Be very clear in what you want to achieve. Consider breaking the goal down into smaller steps.
MEASURABLE: How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What will you be doing at that time? What will others notice you doing? What will be different? What will you have started or be doing regularly? What will you have stopped or be doing less of?
ACHIEVABLE: Ensure your goals are not too high. Don’t set yourself up to fail! Consider setting smaller goals on your way to the big one. Celebrate your successes. If you don’t achieve what you set out to, then ask what you could do differently, what would make it more likely to succeed next time?
REALISTIC & RESOURCED: Is this achievable with the resources I have? Are there any other resources you need before you can, or to help you, achieve your goal? How can you access these resources? What problems might you have? What can you do to minimise those problems?
TIME: Set a reasonable time limit to achieve your goal. 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years? Consider different (smaller) time limits for smaller steps.
Late night scrolling through social media has led me to become more and more angry with (twitter) users who are boasting about how grateful they are for the pandemic because without it occuring, they never would have accomplished x, y, and z. As someone who has accomplished x, y, and z, and more in the midst of the pandemic, I can understand the sentiment that these users are trying to address and share. In any circumstances it is absolutely astounding and exciting to accomplish any goal we set for ourselves, and we all deserve to relish in the praise and pride of said accomplishments, especially when the world is working against us. But being grateful for the opportunities that quarantining provided us is completely different from being grateful for a pandemic that has been the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of positive cases or infections. To be quite honest, that idea is offensive.
These numbers aren't just a sequence made for fun, these are real people with real lifes that make a difference and even more importantly mean something of great value. These are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, first responders, congressmen, waitresses, tech geeks, clerks, insurance agents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and more but most importantly every single one of these people are human.
We do not hold value because of what we do, what goals we accomplish, or because of what we look like. We hold value simply because we exist. Our value is found in who we are. And every human is valuable. We are not numbers. We are living, breathing, beautiful people. It is offensive to say that you are grateful for a global event that killed so many of these simply valuable humans.
The deaths of many, the love and lives lost and divided, the pain and the ache that this disease brought so many people, is NOTHING to be grateful for. There is absolutely nothing about the pandemic worth being grateful for.
The fact that we are human gives us great value in the world, and that in and of itself is a good enough reason to let go of our need to be grateful for the pandemic and acknowledge instead the value of our lives and the lives of those around us. This value exists because we do, not because of what we do with our lives. Being human is enough.
The root of the 2020 pandemic is unknown. It is suspected that the virus was born in an animal and spread to humans after mutating. If humans did not consume animals, then they never would have caught the virus. Additionally, consuming meat has been proven to lead to many health and environmental issues. Furthermore, ancestors of the modern human evolved the way in which they did as a direct result from their plant based diet. As a result of this information, research, and the current pandemic, it is predicted that humans will evolve again to eat less meat and potentially adopt a vegetarian diet.
The current reality for humanity is a frightening one. People all over the world have been affected by the novel virus that has killed over 300,000 people worldwide, shocked scientists, and changed how we live our daily lives. In California people must wear masks in public, and all over the United States people are social distancing and sheltering in place, also known as self quarantining.
There are many speculations as to how the virus originated. We were given a glimpse into how the virus could have spread back in 2003 when SARS originated in Asia (CDC). It is suspected that the virus lived in bats in China, and mutated as it jumped from bats to humans. There is also speculation about whether or not the virus used a different host after bats before it mutated and infected humans (The Guardian). Regardless, scientists are unsure of where the virus originated, but believe it most likely arose from an already existing virus in animals (most likely bats) and then mutated as it began to use humans as it’s host.
Due to the fact that it is widely suspected that the virus originated in an animal, it is safe to argue, and perhaps even assume, that this current pandemic will influence people to eat less meat or become vegetarian all together. Afterall, logic poses the statement that if the virus came from animals, humans would not have been infected with it if they did not eat animals. Luckily there is a plethora of evidence to support the benefits of being vegetarian. In addition to this evidence, there is also evidence that early homo sapiens evolved to have smaller teeth as they adapted to eating a more plant based diet (Larsen). Essentially, there are many benefits to being vegetarian, modern humans evolved to not eat meat, and eating meat could have been the reason why the current pandemic started, therefore as a response to the pandemic, it can be predicted that more people will eat less meat in the future and potentially adopt a vegetarian diet.
Transitioning to a vegetarian diet can have numerous benefits and be great for human’s health if done correctly. For example, vegetarians are 25% less likely to die from heart disease (JAHA). Furthermore, the best foods to consume in an effort to build protection from your heart are vegetarian as well. These include grains, legumes, and nuts (NCBI). Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet in conjunction with eliminating meat will lower your risk of cancer, and vegetarians have been shown to have a 50% less chance of developing type-2 diabetes (NCBI). Although these health benefits are proven to show positive results in people's lives, it must be stated that adopting a vegetarian diet without replacing meat with healthier food choices such as vegetables and legumes can lead to health problems which therefore makes the benefits of being vegetarian nonexistent. It is important to consider the overall diet and ensure that healthy foods are being eaten in replacement of meat to see the benefits that can be found.
Furthermore, protein, iron, and vitamin B-12 are essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function properly. Protein and iron can be found in many many places besides meat, such as eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, chickpeas, peas and whole grains. Protein powders are available at health stores as well. Another important point to keep in mind is that everything we eat contains some amount of protein and iron in it. Everything you eat from breakfast through your midnight snack contains protein, and it all adds up. Very very rarely are individuals in the United States protein deficient, regardless of their diet (PCRM). Additionally, if you do not track your calories or macros, you will still reach the amount of protein needed daily to live and maintain a healthy life. Women tend to be deficient in iron more than men due to menstruation, but there are iron supplements available if needed. Regardless, the same argument for protein applies to iron and it is still rare to be deficient or deficient in a life threatening sense (NCBI). Vitamin B-12 is a vitamin only found in animal products, but if one consumes dairy products, then they will have no issues consuming the recommended amount of B12. If done correctly, vegetarians experience incredible health benefits solely due to their diet.
A vegetarian diet also presents benefits for the environment. Currently, 50% of greenhouse gas emissions are from beef and lamb products, while 8-10% is from food waste. 60% of the carbon emissions in the world are directly from the production of food (Green Eatz; BBC). This footprint is larger than "every car, truck, bus, ship, airplane, and rocket ship combined," (UN Environment Program). According to the UN, lowering our intake of meat and replacing it with vegetables is the most efficient way to combat these carbon emissions. Additionally, 80% of land is used for agricultural purposes. If this land was replaced with forest and vegetation, the plant life could capture the carbon in the air and aid humans in fighting against change. One could argue that the carbon emissions and their current levels that are being released are helping the trees and forests thrive, and this is true but to an extent. Specifically in the Northern Hemisphere, trees are flourishing because of these emissions. The problem is the lack of balance in the ecosystem. Despite the fact that some trees are flourishing, the majority are not, and regardless there are not enough trees to form a healthy symbiotic relationship with the current level of carbon emissions. This lack of balance will eventually lead to so much heat in the environment that vegetation will begin to die off and continue dying off until change is made (Carbon Brief). A vegetarian diet can directly positively impact these issues. If everyone went vegetarian by 2050, the emissions related to food production would decline by 60% (BBC). Additionally, if everyone were to become vegan, the emission levels related to food would drop over 70% (BBC).
These numbers are striking, and clearly show that there are immense benefits to the Earth if humans decide to go vegetarian. But these numbers are only accurate at a global level, so what would happen if only one person changed their diet? The average person's carbon footprint is 20 metric tons. The average carbon footprint of a vegetarian is only 10 metric tons. Simply changing your diet will cut an individual’s contribution to climate change in half (BBC).
“Homo sapiens” is the name for modern humans given by anthropologists. Early modern homo sapiens, or humans, displayed a reduction in denture size in comparison to remains of common ancestors (Larsen). The reduction in tooth size found is due to a changed diet, where homo sapiens were eating primarily plant based diets, along with fish (Larsen). This new diet is strikingly different from other human ancestors, such as the Neanderthal, who ate meat (Larsen). Fundamentally, this means that early modern humans did not eat meat which led to their anatomy adapting to this dietary change, and humans today display these small features. In essence, modern humans are not meant to eat meat because they don’t have the denture structure to do so, which is a trait passed down from early ancestors. This finding, in conjunction with the evidence that supports that being vegetarian proves to be beneficial, can influence humans to make different lifestyle choices in the future.
All of this information can be applied to the pandemic which humanity finds itself in currently. According to EuroNews, the best step humanity can take to prevent a future pandemic is to eliminate meat from our diet. Additionally, author David Quamman spoke with Yale about how the virus spread through bats, and concluded that our relationship with nature and how our consumption of exotic animals was the cause of the current outbreak. Furthermore, many experts and scientists and doctors agree that while it is still uncertain where the virus originated from, it is most likely the result of the consumption of animals. A virus like this would never have been introduced to the human species if humans did not consume meat (The Counter).
Regardless of one’s stance on whether or not consuming meat caused the current pandemic, it can be safely assumed that our lives today have drastically changed by both the virus and current meat consumption. Consuming meat has led to insurmountable health problems in people all over the world, drastic and urgent environmental issues, and potentially the current pandemic. Not to mention the fact that modern homo sapiens, or modern humans, evolved in a way due to their diet that did not include meat. There are many benefits to being vegetarian, modern humans evolved to not eat meat, and eating meat could have been the reason why the current pandemic started, therefore as a response to the pandemic, it can be predicted that more people will eat less meat in the future. Many health experts, scientists, and more agree that moving forward the best way to prevent another pandemic such as the one we are all currently experiencing is by not eating meat and adopting a vegetarian diet. As a result of this research and education, it is predicted that human evolution will change once again as we adapt a vegetarian diet and evolve to not eat meat again.
The Guardian (2020). How did coronavirus start and where did it come from? Was it really Wuhan’s animal market?. Location: The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/28/how-did-the-coronavirus-start-where-did-it-come-from-how-did-it-spread-humans-was-it-really-bats-pangolins-wuhan-animal-market
CDC (2013). CDC SARS Response Time. Location: Center for Disease Control. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/about/history/sars/timeline.htm
Noble (2020). Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Related to Meat Production and Consumption? We Ask the Experts. Location: The Counter. Retrieved from: https://thecounter.org/covid-19-coronavirus-meat-production-consumption/
GreenEatz (2017). Food’s Carbon Footprint. Location: GreenEatz. Retrieved from: http://www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html
Harrabin (2019). Plant Based Diet Can Fight Climate Change. Location: BBC. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49238749
Nuwer (2016). What Would Happen if the World Suddenly Went Vegetarian? Location: BBC. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20160926-what-would-happen-if-the-world-suddenly-went-vegetarian
Science Daily (2008). Carbon Footprint Of Best Conserving Americans Is Still Double Global Average. Location: Science Daily. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428120658.htm
Kim, et al (2019). Plant‐Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All‐Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle‐Aged Adults. Location: Journal of the American Heart Association. Retrieved from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.119.012865
Polak, et al (2015). Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake. Location: NCBI. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/
Pidcock (2016). Rising CO2 has ‘greened’ World’s Plants and Trees. Location: Carbon Brief. Retrieved from: https://www.carbonbrief.org/rising-co2-has-greened-worlds-plants-and-trees
Physicians Committee (2020). Protein. Location: PCRM. Retrieved from: https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/protein
Miller (2013). Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease. Location: NCBI. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3685880/
Cohn (2020). Spillover Warning: How We Can Prevent the Next Pandemic. Location: Yale. Retrieved from: https://e360.yale.edu/features/spillover-warning-how-we-can-prevent-the-next-pandemic-david-quammen
Allen (2020). The best way to prevent future pandemics like coronavirus? Stop eating meat and go vegan. Location: EuroNews. Retrieved from: https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/01/the-best-way-prevent-future-pandemics-like-coronavirus-stop-eating-meat-and-go-vegan-view
DAP, or developmentally appropriate practice, is a vital part of the early childhood education space for both teachers and their students. DAP is a “framework designed to promote young children’s optimal learning and development.” In an effort to meet this goal, early childhood educators need to take into consideration the individual child’s cultural practices, the individual child as a whole, and also child development as a whole. Essentially, early childhood educators need to create goals for each child that are not only reachable, but also provide some kind of challenge. This means that the teaching must be “intentional and effective.” Therefore, early childhood educators must create goals around decision making, and be skilled in making decisions themselves.
Developmentally appropriate practices are weaved into the curriculum and routines in early childhood settings. The NAEYC sets standards for teaching and learning, which in turn includes the goals within developmentally appropriate practices. For example, the issue of school readiness in the United States is a large problem that can easily be addressed by focusing on standards such as developmentally appropriate practices, which are vital to the standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (Assignment 2.2).
In my own experience, I witnessed a teacher taking developmentally appropriate practices seriously. I attended my sister’s “graduation” from T-K, and the teacher took into consideration the culture and individuality of a student who came from households where English was not regularly spoken. There were multiple who came up to speak in Spanish, along with an interpreter for the family of a child who has Deaf parents. She had taken into consideration the differences in language, and the cultural differences that those languages bring. She created an environment where everyone was welcomed, and no one was left behind due to differences in how they communicated. She created a community based off of kindness and caring, took into consideration cultural differences, and created valuable relationships with both the families and their children. These are all important factors of developmentally appropriate practices.
With all of this being said, developmentally appropriate practices are important because they take into consideration the whole child, their individual differences in cultural experiences, and child development as a whole. They align with standards for high quality education that all students deserve, and are goals that can be reached to accommodate every party involved.
Maren Hoflund MT HHP, is a massage therapist and holistic health practitioner based in San Diego. This her self created space where she explores topics such as mental and physical (holistic) health, self care, spirituality, and child development; in addition to her poetry and prose.