I Will Never Trade Pine Trees For Palm Trees

I Will Never Trade Pine Trees For Palm Trees

There’s no where else I’d rather be than exactly where I am.
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Don’t get me wrong, I love the ocean, I mean who doesn’t? But I am in love with the Midwest and there’s nothing that could get me to leave. No other place in the world feels quite like the Midwest does. It’s cozy, yet modern and beautiful.

Having the luxury of four seasons is something I definitely don’t take for granted. I a million capture pictures and make sure to do every cliché activity that season insists on everyone taking part in.

In the Fall, I break out my sweaters, boots, and scarves and don’t plan to put them away for months. Outside, I rake up the colorful leaves in the yard just to jump on the mountain I created. There are haunted trails and hay rides at the apple orchard and carving pumpkins for Halloween. In the Midwest, we bundle up for Friday night lights, but would never miss a game.

In the Winter, I watch out the window as inches on inches of snow pile up outside our doors. As a kid, the only thing you can think about is sledding down the hill and making igloos and snow angels. Everyone else, on the other hand, is just waiting on the snow plow to make its way through your neighborhood and hoping they sanded the highways. We aren’t scared off by negative temperatures in the Midwest, we just put on an extra layer.

In the Spring, everyone seems to have adapted to the below freezing weather so well that even one degree above means people are wearing shorts again. The trees start to bloom and the grass turns green, you start to hear birds chirping in the mornings again. Everything seems to come alive and Midwesterner’s are just happy to see the sun – when it isn’t raining that is.

In the Summer, we have it like no one else. No one else knows how to appreciate a Summer like we do, therefore we waste no time and make every day worth it. Head to the cabin up north for a long weekend, spend all day on the boat, grill out for dinner and make a campfire at night. Three months of this just isn’t long enough, but it sure does make us love it a whole lot more.

Hiking and camping under big pine trees next to a river or lake is an experience like no other and one you will truly only have in the Midwest. I feel lucky to have grown up in a place where it’s so easy to find the beauty in nature. There’s no where else I’d rather be than exactly where I am.

Sure, visiting the southern states is fun and they never disappoint, always beautiful and adventurous, but they’re not the Midwest. The Midwest feels like home and that will never change.

Cover Image Credit: Madisson Morris

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I Ghosted My Old Self For 5 Months In An Effort To Reevaluate My Life

My life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

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BREAKING (not fake) NEWS: It's true, you have to hit your lowest before hitting your highest.

I want to share my lowest with you, and I'm almost ashamed to say it had nothing to do with the loss of both of my parents. I like to think I handled that like a warrior.

Turns out I didn't, and the hurt I've been burying from that hit me all at once, the same moment my life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

My life flipped upside down overnight back in August. I had my heart broken shattered, lost two very important friendships that I thought were with me until the end, lost my 9-5 job, my health took a hit stronger than a boulder, and I was absolutely lost. For the first time, ever, I let go of the reigns on my own life. I had no idea how to handle myself, how to make anyone around me happy, how to get out of bed or how to even begin the process of trying to process what the f*ck just happened. I was terrified.

Coming from the girl who never encountered a dilemma she couldn't fix instantaneously, on her own, with no emotional burden. I was checked out from making my life better. So I didn't try. I didn't even think about thinking about trying.

The only relatively understandable way I could think to deal with anything was to not deal with anything. And that's exactly what I did. And it was f*cking amazing.

I went into hiding for a week, then went on a week getaway with my family, regained that feeling of being loved unconditionally, and realized that's all I need. They are all I need. Friends? Nah. Family. Only. Always.

On that vacation, I got a call from the school district that they wanted me in for an interview the day I come home. It was for a position that entailed every single class, combined, that I took in my college career. It was a career that I had just gotten my degree for three months before.

I came home and saw my doctor and got a health plan in order. I was immediately thrown into the month-long hiring process for work. I made it a point to make sunset every single night, alone, to make sure I was mentally caught up and in-check at the same exact speed that my life was turning. I was not about to lose my control again. Not ever.

Since August, I have spent more time with family than ever. I've read over 10 new books, I've discovered so much new music, I went on some of my best, the worst and funniest first dates, I made true, loyal friends that cause me zero stress while completely drowning me in overwhelming amounts of love and support, I got back into yoga, and I started that job and damn near fell more in love with it than I ever was for the guy I lost over the summer.

But most importantly, I changed my mindset. I promised myself to not say a single sentence that has a negative tone to it. I promised myself to think three times before engaging in any type of personal conversation. I promised myself to wake up in a good mood every damn day because I'm alive and that is the only factor I should need to be happy.

Take it from a girl who knew her words were weapons and used them frequently before deciding to turn every aspect of her life into positivity — even in the midst of losing one of my closest family members. I have been told multiple times, by people so dear to me that I'm "glowing." You know what I said back? F*ck yes I am, and I deserve to.

I am so happy with myself and it has nothing to do with the things around me. It's so much deeper than that, and I'm beaming with pride. Of myself. For myself.

I want to leave you with these thoughts that those people who have hurt me, left me, and loved me through these last couple of months have taught me

Growth is sometimes a lonely process.
Some things go too deep to ever be forgotten.
You need to give yourself the permission to be happy right now.
You outgrow people you thought you couldn't live without, and you're not the one to blame for that. You're growing.
Sometimes it takes your break down to reach your breakthrough.

Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

My god, it's so f*cking good.

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Why Challenge is Good for Personal Growth

Challenging oneself more can increase performance and motivation towards a goal.

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Poet Ted Hughes, commenting on what happens when a person puts pen to paper, wrote, "you meet the terrible resistance of what happened your first year at it when you couldn't write at all." For years in the '80s, Hughes would judge poem contests and noted that the poems had gotten strangely boring as time progressed, although the poems were beautifully written with nary a grammatical error with many reaching seventy pages. This was around the time where home computers had penetrated into the household.

This is unsurprising, however, as many recent neurological studies have added strength to Hughes hypothesis, saying that the mere act of hand-writing activates part of the brain involving memory and thinking more than typing on the keyboard. But why is that? Typing on the keyboard makes it easier, more efficient to write, which is good but not necessarily best. This principle applies to many everyday things.

Walk into any gym and they will be packed to the brim with fancy machines to aid in working out. These machines work, there is no doubt about that, but they don't produce the same kind of functional strength as pure weightlifting would with dumbbells and barbells. Likewise, these machines produce a solid physique, just as the poems possess a strong understanding of the English language, but they lack the strength or creativity to back it up.

It is perhaps our human desire to develop ways to make life easier for ourselves, because why would we voluntarily want to have a difficult or challenging life? We wouldn't. However, it is this challenge, it is the difficulties that we face that make us grow as people. When we encounter difficulty we are forced to step back, figure out what we want and then devote resources to attain that goal. A rather personal example is my new weightlifting regime.

I was insecure about my squat and my legs because I had always struggled to do them with a knee injury I had as a child. After a session at the gym where I struggled to even do the bare minimum, I knew that I couldn't stop fooling myself anymore. I developed a schedule around improving my legs and my squat and it has worked wonders. Whenever I face a weight I'm struggling with, I keep trying until I get it perfect for multiple repetitions.

In a study done by scientists at the University of Amsterdam, they conducted several trials to learn how external obstacles affect our thought process. One experiment had two groups of people solving an anagram puzzle, one group was the control, while the other had random numbers read off while they were trying to solve the puzzle. Those in the experimental group actually demonstrated better cognitive ability. This was because they were likely to make mental associations and connections. The researches concluded that when people are faced with unexpected barriers they are more likely to widen their range of perception to look at the larger picture.

Take, for example, the creation of the first airplane. Wilbur and Orville had essentially nothing, not even a college degree. They ran a small bike shop in a small town in North Carolina. They had an idea, and seemingly infinite obstacles to achieve their goal: limited funding, lack of education, a small crew, and the biggest one was probably that they had a limited understanding of engineering. However, they weren't the only person that tried to build the flying machine. Samual Langley was a well known and respected engineer.

Educated at Harvard and friends with many bigwigs, he was sponsored and given millions of dollars to try and create a functional flying machine. He had all the resources he could ask for at the tip of his fingertips and failed to create this machine. However, a small crew headed by two bike repairmen was able to. It was precisely these difficulties that allowed their passion to thrive because they had to actually work for it, they had to apply everything they had to this project. Langley, on the other hand, not so much.

There are infinite examples, stories, personal anecdotes that could be presented to prove this point, and that's because it is nearly universal. Having obstacles pushes us to try harder, it motivates us to achieve, to create, to innovate. Without difficulty, we lose what makes us truly human, our drive to make more. We have the world at our fingertips in the world of technology, which is good in many respects, but sometimes write out that essay for English or work with the free weight section over the machines at the gym.

These difficulties don't have to be big, but when presented they can allow for greater cognitive ability producing products that can really make an impact. Hughes wisdom about the simple act of putting pen to paper, a trivial obstacle, will only become increasingly more important as technology continues to dominate more and more of our everyday lives and take away the traditional obstacles that have allowed us to remain uniquely human. So challenge yourself every now, look at it as a way to motivate, to improve, not as a pesky annoyance.

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