5 Reasons I Love Oklahoma

5 Reasons I Love Oklahoma

From a proud Okie.
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Why do I love Oklahoma? People who aren't from here ask me this question on a regular basis. I understand why people are curious because there are so many things about my beliefs that do not align with a state that makes national headlines for things that are regularly embarrassing. I do not support our Governor, I disagree with most things that the State Congress does, and hailing from a state that regularly provides the world with meme fodder has its disadvantages. The things that garner us national attention are usually cringe-worthy — except for Sweet Brown, you keep doing your thing, girl.

Aside from the fact that Oklahoma is regularly a national embarrassment, it is also home. I hail from a small town in Southeast Oklahoma — Hartshorne — that no one has ever heard of; we have two traffic lights and one is usually broken, people regularly ride their horses and/or ATVs into town, and, yes, we do have a guy who hitches a trailer to his lawn tractor and uses it to haul his groceries home. The town even reenacts a bank robbery as part of our Independence Day celebration, they've done it since my mother was a kid. I grew up watching it every year with my cousins and now one of them is one of the "outlaws" who rob the bank. It is traditions like these among other things that makes Oklahoma such a great place to live. Oklahoma will always hold a special place in my heart and it will always be OklaHOMEa.

Here are 5 reasons why I love where I live:

1. People are friendlier in Oklahoma than in other parts of the country, or even the world.

This is a photo of my NeeNee (grandmother) making her rounds at the local café. She makes it a point to say hello to and/or hug everyone she knows, which is usually most of the restaurant. I've been told by several people who aren't from Oklahoma that they find our friendliness weird and sometimes unnerving. We smile at strangers on the street and wave each other on at four-way stops. Apparently this is just plain strange to anyone who isn't an Oklahoma native, but its part of the reason I love this state.

2. The generosity and sense of community.

If you ask anyone from outside of our state what they know about Oklahoma, you'll likely hear "tornadoes." We are dead center in the middle of tornado alley and we know what a storm can do, but every time our community is ravaged by mother nature we come together to clean-up and rebuild. Almost everyone I know did something to help after the May 20, 2013 tornado that destroyed a big part of Moore, Oklahoma. It may have been a small gesture such as donating a few cases of bottled water or as big as throwing a benefit concert like Toby Keith. It doesn't matter what it is, big or small, Oklahomans help in anyway that we can.

3. The food.

Our state meal (yes we have a state meal) consists of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, fried okra, pecan pie, sweet tea, and the list goes on. People who aren't from here get really confused when you say "chicken fried steak." When I lived in Michigan people called us strange for having black-eyed peas for New Years dinner and servers would always bring out unsweet tea and sugar packets when we ordered sweet tea. If you don't mind the fat content and cholesterol, our food can't be beat. Oh, and Dr Pepper, because Dr Pepper.

4. Norman

In my opinion Norman is the greatest city in the state. Move over OKC and Tulsa, Norman is comin' for ya. Norman is home to the University of Oklahoma and as a college town it has a lot to offer. Norman is the city of festivals where there is always something going on. Norman offers a wide variety of activities for a wide variety of interests. Norman has the Medieval Fair, Norman Music Festival, Jazz in June, the Summer Breeze Concert Series, and the second Friday of the month Art Walk on Main Street. In addition to the festivals and live music there is also a multitude of local bars and restaurants that are bound to strike your interest.

5. Local and regional music.

Another thing that I love about Oklahoma is the local and regional music scene. Many famous musicians hail from Oklahoma and many still call the state home; Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, Toby Keith, and the list goes on and on. Oklahoma has also brought us bands such as The Flaming Lips, The All-American Rejects, Kings of Leon, and Hanson. Aside from the more well known musicians listed above, Oklahoma is home to a fantastic lesser known sub-genre of country known as Red Dirt. The Turnpike Troubadours, Stoney LaRue, No Justice, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and The Damn Quails are just a few names that come to mind when I think of Oklahoma music. Red Dirt and Oklahoma country aren't all that the state has to offer as there is also a wide variety of genres represented throughout Oklahoma.

Pictured above is Hosty Duo, if you are interested in learning more about regional music I would suggest checking Hosty out - you can usually find him at The Deli in Norman most Sundays.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Things To Do in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is a big city with a booming night life and beautiful scenery.

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I recently took a long weekend trip to Vancouver. Here are some things I did and some ideas and suggestions for those visiting the city for the first time.

Cocktails

You can't come to Metropolitan Vancouver and not go out for drinks at least one night. There are so many restaurants and cocktail lounges around the city, it would be a shame to neglect to try some Canadian alcohol. The first night I was in town, I went to Juniper Restaurant and Bar in Chinatown.

They had a wide selection of different mixed drinks, and I was impressed with the flavors of all the different cocktails I tried. Most restaurants around the city sell alcohol, so do some research and try the different alcohol selections in the different parts of the city.

The drinking age in Canada is 19, so it was strange for me to go out and order cocktails for myself. Some places ask for two forms of Government issued ID, so be prepared by bringing your Drivers License and passport.

Clubs

The Roxy

During my time in the city, I never went to any clubs. My hotel was on the same block as several of the popular ones, and they seemed like a pretty big deal. I am used to the clubs in my college town, so I was not prepared to walk myself into a real uppity downtown club.

Some of them have dress codes and other rules so be sure to do some research before planning your whole night around being there. One down the block from my downtown hotel was called The Roxy Cabaret. I heard if you are wanting just one club to give you the full Vancouver experience, that was the one to try.

Markets

Granville Island Public Market Entrance

The most popular market in Vancouver is the Granville Island Public Market, very obviously located on Granville Island. The market has art galleries, the market itself which includes anything from artwork to fruits and meats, little shops, and restaurants.

There is a lot of entertainment there. Sometimes they host music festivals and other events during the summer, so expect to spend several hours there if you are wanting to get the full market experience.

During the summer, North Vancouver hosts The Shipyards Night Market. If you are wanting a taste of North Vancouver, including food, drinks, and culture, this is the summer event to go to. I ate some tasty Greek dessert and drank a sparkling vodka while listening to a live band. It was a great way to enjoy the beautiful evenings on the shore.

Whale Watching

Killer Whales

Vancouver is known for its beautiful landscapes and its salmon fishing. While I was there, we went whale watching in Steveston, British Columbia located right outside of Vancouver. During our 4 hour trip, we saw bald eagles, sea lions, killer whales, all with the backdrop of the beautiful North Shore Mountains.

Make sure to bring warm clothes and food. It was a really beautiful trip but the breeze from the fast-moving boat was a little chilly. It was also a long trip, so it was nice to have something to snack on to make sure I wouldn't get sea sick.

Eat

Vegetarian Poutine

Morgan Fischer

Vancouver is a cultural center. There are so many different people there from all over the world. The majority of the people I met there had accents because they were not originally from Canada.

That means the city is filled with every type of food you can think of. You can get anything from Thai to Italian to barbeque and everything in between. Look up different culture areas of the city and try new food in each one.

I also suggest trying Canadian food. Poutine especially. Poutine is simply french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds on it. There are even restaurants that just serve poutine, but spice it up with different toppings and such. The one I would always walk by was Mean Poutine that was located downtown. There was always a line out the door so it must be good!

Finally, Just Ask a Local

Vancouver residents obviously know the best things to do in the city. All the people I interacted with were extremely nice and helpful. I even had a waitress write down a whole list of places to go get the best cocktails around the city.

Do not be shy while you are there. Talk to your waitress or the person helping you at the store. Ask them about the city and see where they think you should go. You never know a hidden treasure you may find or an adventure you may experience because of their advice!

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