The Journey Of Descending Into The Long Lost Holiday Spirit

The Journey Of Descending Into The Long Lost Holiday Spirit

To the person who lost the spirit from the girl who found it again.
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Hi, I’m Kaitlyn and last year I hated Christmas.

Okay, maybe hate is a strong word, but I never really understood the hype about it. I don’t know what it was about it, but it never set right with me. It was cold, it showed, I was stuck inside, and had no one to spend the holidays with for the most part. Everyone was busy with other things, and I was happy for them! It’s good to have family! But when it’s just your parents and you for the holidays, it gets kind of boring. Its nothing special, just another family dinner. (Not including the gifts, we’re talking about waking up in your footie pajamas and booties and jumping into the car, on the way to some good old fashion genuine familial bonding over dinners and lame jokes.)

And I did appreciate it! But I appreciated it as much as I could, knowing there was nothing different about the day save for the gifts, which are nice and all but only temporary when the surprise wears off.

Since I found out Santa wasn’t real, the magic had left the household, and Christmas was just another day. Recently, however, I have found myself in much better spirits about the holidays by taking these four stepseasy steps.

The first step is to give into the tackiness. My true start to the holidays wasn’t until my mother and I stopped by Walmart, and I laid eyes on the tackiest, best looking fake pumpkin I have ever seen. Pick it up, don’t think about where to put it or what to do with it, just do it. I didn’t have any place to put the pumpkin, nor did I have a place to put the matching autumn themed plaid bird, but I picked it up for cheap and made it work. It now sits on my desk, watching me as I write articles. Just that alone set my mood for the good autumn season- thanksgiving and present. And! They can work for Christmas too!

The second step is acceptance. I already know my Christmas will be small, and I am thankful for that. I love my parents and my family as it is, even if it isn’t what it use to be. No, we may not be visiting family as often as we use to, but it is less stressful this way, and it allows time to truly focus on what’s important. The kids are still young and there is still magic in seeing the excitement on their face. Focusing on the positive is such a strong mechanism in enjoying the holidays.

Third, relish in the cliches. There is a reason they are cliche, and it’s because they are comforting. Get hot chocolate or coffee, get your pajamas on (they don’t have to be flannels, just whatever is comfortable) or a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt, grab a book, light candles, do it all because it’s the season of solace.Also, invest in some booties from walmart- not the fuzzy socks, even though those are nice, but the booties- like the ones pictured They are thicker, fit snug, and have cute designs and little bows on the top. Animals hibernate because they are hungry, humans hibernate in the winter because it’s comfortable. There is no shame in being holed up when it's thirty degrees outside, and you would be amazed by the change a nice warm room with candles can make. Just make time for yourself.

Four, give. I can honestly say this change was the biggest in my mood this season. As someone who doesn’t usually give gifts around the holidays- be it from lack of money or due to not knowing what someone would like- I spent a grand total of a hundred dollars on five gifts, roughly twenty dollars each. This isn’t about the price, it never should be, but it is just to put in perspective at the drastic change from past Christmases where I did not buy a gift for one reason or another, and therefore had nothing to look forward to except my own gifts. Even getting my own wasn’t as exciting as the idea of shopping for my parents or my niece and nephew, wrapping them up, and sitting them under the tree. I look forward not only to seeing my own gifts, but more so to see their faces when they see how I thought about them.

When it comes to the autumn and winter seasons, it’s all about the small changes that can set the mood. Dimmed lights with a string of fairy lights over your bed, or a cup of coffee with candles. Getting into the spirit is easy, even if the spirit hasn't been in you in the past. The most important thing is to do things for yourself, make time for yourself, especially after a long semester or a long day at work. During this time of year, it’s good to be a little selfish.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay.com

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40 Things To Do During Summer Vacation

Because we all know four months without college friends or classes is WAY too long.
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It's been less than a week since finals wrapped up at the University of Minnesota, and I, among many of my other friends, are already lost on things to do. Since January, our entire schedules have been filled with homework and studying. The new freedom summer brings provides endless time (in between our summer job shifts, of course) for new activities and things you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do during the school year. Below is a list of 40 different activities to keep you entertained during your break and to ensure you make the most of your summer.


1. Learn a new language.

I highly recommend starting with Duolingo. It's an app that provides free language tutoring through a series of activities and exercises. It offers a wide variety of languages such as Spanish, German, Greek, Swahili, among many others.

2. Volunteer.

There's an endless amount of volunteering opportunities offered throughout every major city in the country. For example, many hospitals will accept volunteers, as well as organizations in Minnesota such as Feed, My Starving Children, or the Ronald McDonald House. Most positions only require an application but be sure to check for minimum requirements such as age or experience.

3. Read a book.

Go to a library and wander until you find a book you think you'll like. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

4. Watch a TED talk.

This is one of my favorite hobbies any time of the year. TED is a nonprofit organization that shares short, approximately 15-minute videos ranging from science to business to global issues. There's a topic out there for everyone.

5. Start a garden.

Even if you don't have any outdoor space, succulents and cacti are very low maintenance and still add a little "green" to your indoor space.

6. Go camping.

Whether it's at a campground or in your backyard, enjoy the technology-free time with your family or friends.

7. Paint.

If you're not an artistic person, go to the store, buy a set of Crayola watercolors, and just paint.

8. Take an online course.

Coursera and edX both supply free online courses from top universities such as Yale, MIT, and Harvard. If you're trying to further your understanding of a particular topic such as physics or biology, I suggest starting with these websites.

9. Bake brownies or cookies.

Most stores stock up on the prepared cookie or brownie mixes, but if you have the time and ingredients, try making them from scratch.

10. Fly a kite.

Kites are available on Amazon for $10-$15, and instruction videos are available on YouTube to help you get started.

11. Play board games.

Life and Scrabble are my go-to's.

12. Make a scrapbook of old memories.

If you have the time and a little extra money, I promise the end-product will be worthwhile.

13. Start a journal.

You don't have to go buy the fancy Moleskin journals or buy an expensive one from Barnes and Noble, a simple notebook will do the trick. Write down your thoughts and document your summer.

14. Go to the beach.

Enjoy the sunshine, but don't forget sunscreen!

15. Go fishing.

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and one of them is most likely within driving distance. Take the time on a nice, calm morning, and go fishing.

16. Binge-watch a TV show on Netflix.

"The Office," "Friends," "New Girl," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Grey's Anatomy" are good places to start.

17. Start a bucket list and cross off one item every week.

The items added don't have to be spectacular and nearly unattainable, they can be little things, too. In other words, I'm not expecting you to go skydiving, swim with sharks, and go on a cruise all in one month.

18. Learn to rock climb.

Both indoor and outdoor rock climbing are available depending on your level of comfort and experience. Remember to take every safety precaution and have fun.

19. Catch up with an old friend over coffee.

Call the friend you haven't seen in three years and ask to catch up over coffee. You never know how much their life has changed since last speaking with you.

20. Have a picnic.

Pack a basket with sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, and juice, and find a nice spot with a view. Maybe bring a book for a post-picnic activity.

21. Meditate or do yoga.

If you're unexperienced in both of these activities, many YouTube channels provide instructional videos. I'll post a link to one of my favorite YouTube yoga instructors here.

22. Learn a new instrument.

Whether it's piano, guitar, or even this $7.49 recorder from Amazon, try something new.

23. Discover new music.

Spotify and Pandora are great music platforms to discover different songs and artists. Keep checking your local venues and maybe attend a concert if possible.

24. Complete a puzzle.

You can buy puzzles online for around $10-$15. However, thrift stores and stores like Goodwill often sell them for less than $5.

25. Visit a museum.

The Science Museum of Minnesota and Minneapolis Institute of Art are two of the post popular museums in Minnesota. If you check their websites and other internet sources such as Groupon, you might be able to find a discount for admission.

26. Go to a comedy show.

I'm unaware of good comedy events around the country, but if you ever find yourself in downtown Minneapolis, check out Brave New Workshop.

27. Build a card tower.

If you're unsure how to do so, here is a link to instructions.

28. Reorganize and redecorate your room.

If you'd like a change in your life, try redecorating or reorganizing your room. Donate old clothes, books, or furniture no longer in use.

29. Marathon the entire Harry Potter series.

I challenge you to do this back-to-back with each movie, but I also realize that is 19 hours and 39 minutes of watching movies, not including snack or bathroom breaks.

30. Play with a pet.

It doesn't have to be your own. For a real adventure, check out the nearest animal shelter.

31. Start a blog.

Wordpress and Weebly are two online blogging websites that I highly suggest. Although it takes awhile to become accustomed to the platform, these websites are great because they're entirely customizable to the type of blog you wish to create.

32. Go for a bike ride.

Whether it's along the river or out on back roads, go for a ride.

33. Teach yourself how to juggle.

This might be easier said than done, but some videos on YouTube might be useful.

34. Take a bubble bath.

Some bubble bath or a bath bomb, music, and a good book will have you relaxed almost instantly.

35. Go to a farmer's market.

Support the farmers in your community and try buying local. With a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and flowers, there's something for everyone. The farmer's market in downtown Minneapolis is open Thursday's from 6am-6pm, while the Lyndale Market is open daily from 6am-1pm.


36. Exercise.

Go for a walk. Run. Bike. Do yoga. Play soccer. Just get up, and get moving.

37. Become a tourist in your own city.

Pretend you're from out of state and only have a limited amount of time to explore your city. Take yourself and your friends or family to the must-see places around town.

38. Color.

Adult coloring books have become an increasingly popular trend. Available online, Barnes and Noble, and Target, they're easily accessible. You can buy a book, some colored pencils or pens, and enjoy the relaxing day.

39. Spend time with your family and friends.

Whether it's a movie day or going out on a walk, put away your phone or laptop for a day and appreciate the people standing around you.

40. Enjoy all the time you have not worrying about studying or homework.

Cover Image Credit: Joe Pizzio // Unsplash

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You're Not Crazy, Your Seasonal Allergies ARE Worse Than They Normally Are

Between all of these symptoms, I've felt miserable the last week.

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We've all been waiting for summer to come, and it's finally on its way. I started putting away my jackets and heavy clothes, and I'm so excited to take out my dresses and bathing suits. Classes are ending for students and we can start the beach trips on these warm, sunny days. What could possibly be wrong with summer coming?

If you have seasonal allergies, specifically to pollen and tree-related allergens, you may be in for a real problem.

In certain states, especially in the northern and eastern US areas, the pollen count is at drastically high levels. So much so that people with only minimal seasonal allergies are having intense reactions, and people who didn't even know they had allergies are having their first reactions.

I've only ever had an itchy nose when seasons change, and only when standing in the middle of lots of plants that would aggravate it. I never suspected my allergies would be making me so sick right now until my physician told me what's going on with this season's allergens.

Since the pollen levels are so dramatic in New York right now, I've had sinus congestion so bad it turned into sinusitis, and a sore throat so swollen and painful I swore it had to be strep. The sinusitis was giving me fevers, aches, and chills, making me feel like I had the flu — all of this traced back to allergies. Between all of these symptoms, I've felt miserable the last week.

Once I started asking around about what my doctor said, several people have told me they're having the same problem with their allergies now. If you're suspicious you may have allergies, get tested and ask your doctor's opinion. It's best to be well-informed on your medical issues so that you'll be prepared if a bad allergy season comes along (like this summer).

If you want to know what the pollen count looks like in your area, go to Pollen.com and allow access to your location — it'll show you a map of the states and their current pollen levels, as well as a specific analysis of the town you live.

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