8 Urban Myths of Depression and How To REALLY Help
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The Myths

  1. With enough willpower, anyone can overcome depression
  2. It's all in their head
  3. Depression is something to be ashamed of
  4. You can't be productive if you're depressed
  5. Therapy doesn't work
  6. Medications are addictive or at least create a dependency
  7. Depression is the same for everyone
  8. Substance abuse and depression are unrelated

Now I can sigh with relief that at least you know those because our society is seriously lacking when it comes to mental illness education.

I would like to provide an analogy to you to use in the future. From now on I would like you to act like everyone with depression has had their arm chopped off because mental illness should not be treated as less important than physical illness. So... you would not tell a person who has just had their arm chopped off that they just need to exercise or not take it so seriously or that they need to suck it up and move on with their daily lives because people depend on them. The same goes for those with depression... it is a REAL illness that needs REAL medical attention and I am sick to death of hearing that "eating clean" will fix their depression. Sadness and depression are NOT the same thing. 

How to REALLY Help

With that out of the way, as someone who has had multiple people in my life suffer from depression I can reassure you that I have done almost everything wrong and I learned a lot of this the hard way. I'm taking this information straight from a depression recovery manual for how to help ourselves and those we love suffering (yes... SUFFERING) from depression. 

1. Make sure YOU'RE in therapy

This is so important! Even if you're not the one who is depressed you can't pour from an empty cup and having someone in your life with depression is very, very traumatic for you as well. Even just having an independent party tell you it's not your fault is going to help immensely. 

2. Educate yourself

If you're depressed this might be very difficult for you, but learning about your illness and getting justification for your actions will really help you articulate to others what is really going on. 

You also cannot be an ally if you are not educated in HOW to be an ally. This post is a great start, but I would strongly suggest taking an online workshop at least because this is such a delicate situation. You could easily be an enabler or sabotager without proper training. 

3. Keep a journal

If you're depressed keep a journal and try to identify triggers and stressors in your life. This will be a great tool to bring to therapy or to review in order to find solutions as to how to avoid the triggers, etc. 

If you're an ally keep a journal for the same reasons... bringing it to therapy will help you articulate your thoughts about your journey through this.

4. Maintain your friendships

The worst thing you could do is isolate yourself, whether your depressed or an ally this is critically important. Humans are social creatures for a reason. 

5. Keep routines

Dinner time, watching Game of Thrones every Sunday, going to Church... all good things. 

6. Continue with your hobbies

If you LOVE gardening, again whether depressed or an ally, you should be gardening MORE while you're going through this process (and "this process" could be for the rest of your life). Make sure you're making time for things you love. 

7. Remember to let go and that life goes on

Try to notice things and appreciate them. Feel the sunlight (lol see what I did there?) and appreciate it. Send a thank you note for something. Listen to birds sing. Focus on small pleasures. 

8. Stay mindful of your physical health

Especially if you're an ally. Taking care of a loved one with depression is rough mentally AND physically. Make sure you're taking the time to keep your body healthy. If you're depressed try to be mindful of your physical health and ask for help if you need it. 

9. Support group it up

Again, whether you're an ally or depressed support groups will help you gain perspective and give you additional tools to help you. You do not have to do this alone, there are plenty of others in your neighborhood who are willing to help and they all meet at the same time and place every week so you have no excuse to not go.

10. Make self-care your priority

SET BOUNDARIES, make sure you aren't being codependent, make sure you're doing things that make YOU feel good. 

11. Develop the "observers mind"

Respond to the feelings behind the statements like fears of abandonment, trauma, losing functioning and mental capacity. Pay attention to body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. Try to see these without judgement and avoid personalizing the statement so you're not drawn to an argument. The goal is to recognize what their feelings are without responding personally. And don't immediately respond. Appreciate the wisdom and pain of empathic silence. 

12. Learn to validate feelings

"I know it's scary to be in so much pain. Feelings come and go. We'll get through this together." Never say "you'll be fine" or "it's not that bad". What they're feeling feels real to them, it IS their reality. There is justification for it. You are not their therapist and it is not your job to provide them a new reality. Your job is to support them and that means validating their feelings. 

13. Set reasonable limits

Limits will help you create a feeling of safety. This can include setting limits about telephone, talking time, unacceptable behavior, and what you're going to do about it. Make sure you confront with love. I suggest having a family meeting to discuss important things and make sure you separate your loved one's worth as a person from their behavior. Also, add consistency by letting them know you will not abandon them. 

Signs of Suicide

Step in and call your local suicide prevention hotline if you see any of the following:

  1. loss of interest in activities and hobbies that were a source of interest
  2. loss of interest in work or career
  3. giving away possessions, writing a will
  4. having unusually dark conversations in which death is ennobled
  5. writing poetry or prose that are very dark and about death and loneliness
  6. increase in alcohol or drug intake
  7. making preparations for or talks about a suicide plan that is specific, concrete, within the person's means and lethal
  8. becoming detached from emotions, and family and friends
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5 Lessons For The Politically Passionate
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I realize I probably don't even need to say this, but being politically passionate is probably my largest identifier. I am passionate about EVERYTHING, especially politics. When I meet someone who says "I don't care about politics", I look at them green with envy because oh how I wish I didn't care so much, but I do. And I know there are a lot of people who also care a lot. I'm an empath, meaning when I watch a documentary about child sex slavery in Thailand I hurt in a very real, deep way and I empathize with them. I immediately want to solve the problem and take away the pain and do so by feeling the pain. I get that this is unhealthy, and I'm working on it, but it's who I am. That being said... it is very, very difficult for me to debate with folks who don't care about the suffering of others and are individualistic in nature. I'm not a "liberal" or a "conservative", I just, to be quite frank, give a shit about justice.

So... whether you're an empath, a liberal, a conservative, or whatever label you want to give yourself, if you care then you're going to get into arguments. This country is so divided, and again my heart breaks for it. These are 4 lessons that I've learned when it comes to speaking your mind (godspeed to those of us who try to make a change).

1. Don't invalidate the other persons experience

I'm starting to realize that as an empath, this is a lot easier for me than it is for other people. When I speak about immigration with my dad (a conservative by any stretch of the imagination), I'm not going to dismiss the struggles he went through as a Sheriff working on the Arizona border, or as a corrections officer, or as a business owner, or as a father, or as someone competing for a job in the economy, or someone who can't afford to pay even more for their food than they already do, etc. It is because I understand these things that I can get through to him. We can discuss the policies in a respectful and decent way even though we disagree. 

It is very important to remember that if you invalidate the other person's feelings and experiences by labeling them in any sort of simple term (racist, liberal, bigot, etc), then they are not going to listen to you. How can you convince someone that you have a point if they stop listening to you? And think of how you would like to be treated during a debate and be that person. I for one would love to not be interrupted, to not be called names such as privileged, liberal, or any other identifier they have stored up, and I would love if the other person really thought about what I am saying instead of dismissing it right away. Therefore... that's what I will be doing to them. Compassion doesn't mean you agree with someone, and it doesn't mean you have to like them, it just means that you recognize them as a person.

2. Have an open mind

Again... both sides are guilty of this. If I could use one term to describe my lease favorite kind of debater... it's condescending. You do not know everything. I do not care what your background is, how long you've been studying politics, how long you have even been alive, you don't know everything and real solutions are not going to be brought to the table if you are an arrogant asshole who believes that you are right and anyone else who disagrees with you is wrong. When you approach people with your ideas it should come across as a discussion, not as a lecture. And of course I don't mean be accepting of blatant racism and sexism, etc. But you can't fight racism by brushing it off as just a silly idea only entertained by those who are beneath you in every way, it is very real and very problematic and lives are at stake because of it so you need to treat this issue very carefully.

3. Stand on the balcony

Whenever there's an argument there's one person who says their opinion, and then there's the responder (who has serious guts) and begins to tell the first person why they're wrong. If you imagine these two people on a street, arguing back and forth, then imagine yourself standing on a balcony watching the argument happen. This person can be the voice of reason. This person can see how both people are both wrong and right and remind the two on the street who the enemy is. The enemy is world suffering, the enemy is bigotry on all levels, the enemy is poverty, the enemy is abuse. What the enemy is not is the other person.

Someone has to be the one who steps back from the debate, looks at it with fresh eyes, and comes up with a better solution that the two in the street cannot come up with because they're too busy arguing the same argument over and over again. The secret to peace is a community that circles around every conflict and doesn't allow it to escalate. We need to stop fighting for a moment and talk.

There's a great TED talk that talks about this: here

(If you're serious about peace and want to know what it's going to take, you need to watch that TED talk...)

The reason why this is important is because the politically passionate are the ones who are going to make a difference, for better or for worse. Personally, I want the world constantly moving towards peace, and the politically passionate need to be the best versions of people in society because we are who everyone else is going to get their opinions from.

4. Remember that words matter

Kindness, compassion, and empathy are skills that you have to constantly practice. If you are an advocate for your cause then every single thing you say or do or post on Facebook speaks for the entire cause. Make sure that everything you write, post, and say is intentional and comes from a place of kindness, compassion, or empathy. Make sure that everything you write, post, and say doesn't alienate the people you need on your side, that it doesn't destroy relationships, that it doesn't make the cause look ignorant or uneducated (*cough* fake news), and that it doesn't "otherize" anyone else in the population (other than the racists, bigots, etc).

The one thing that every religion has in common is that it preaches the golden rule. Every single religion says that you need to really think about how you want to be treated and then treat others in that way. It is really that simple. Ask yourself if how you're treating this person is how you want to be treated, and if it's not, then don't do it. And you must have concern for everyone, love your enemies, and really get to know one another. If you claim to be religious, of any religion, this is a crucial component of faith.

5. Take the "other" to lunch

This is a not-so-fun, but important, practice that was just told to me. If you're a Democrat, take a Republican to lunch and talk to them on a personal level. Again, you don't have to agree, you don't have to be friends, but you do need to see the "other" as a human being who just disagrees with you on where they want the country to go. This is how the country can come together again. You can talk to someone about why they voted for Trump, even though you disagree with his demeanor and racist comments. You can talk to someone who voted for Clinton, even though they were originally a Bernie supporter and weren't thrilled with the choice. You can talk about how you both grew up in the working class or whatever, so long as you're finding commonalities to talk about.

Hearing the "others" story is super important and it's something this country is not doing. Hang out with anyone outside of those who look like you and think like you. It's not going to be easy, but if you really want to make a difference and be listened to, and have your ideas spread, you must first listen to the opposition and understand where they're coming from. Again, you don't have to agree with them, but you do need to understand why they believe in what they do. And as the face of your cause you have now just convinced this "other" person that all liberals or all conservatives aren't assholes who think they're right and don't listen to the other side.

To change the game you have to change the frame.

PSA: This does not mean you can allow people to be mean to you or harass you. If you do not feel that the discourse is happening in a safe environment you are free from these reminders. Honestly, there are also the people who will never listen. I do believe in lost causes. You can't make someone treat you with respect, and if they don't, you have no obligation to respect them by giving them your time. Move on with tact and grace and try with someone else.

The 7 Sins of Society

I've outlined in no particular order my 7 biggest pet peeves that I wish society would stop doing. I understand completely that all of these will continue after I have written this, but hopefully it at least gives you some food for thought. I would also like you to keep in mind that most of these apply only to first world societies and the U.S. in particular.

7. Wastefulness

I wrote an entire post about how wasteful we are just with water (read here). There is so much I could say about how we feel like we need to buy things to promote an image, or fill a void, or out of habit, etc. It is so unnecessary and I really believe that millennials are discovering this. Minimalism is becoming widely popular for a reason. We're discovering that the reason why we have so much is because someone somewhere has so little and is being exploited to make it for us. Plus there's so much pollution as a result of making it, shipping it, and throwing it away. We take and take and give nothing back but more problems.

6. Listening to Reply

As a society we need to listen to understand, not to reply. I thought I was going to start this blog to post about the election (since I am a political science major and all), but I just couldn't bring myself to add more noise to such a noisy world. And you know what I've noticed? Even though so much is being said, nobody is listening. I cannot stand how rude people have been for the last year (and probably longer it just became more saturated in the last year). If you are not having a conversation in order to learn more about the world, the person you're talking to, other ideas, etc, why are you having a conversation? You do realize that in order for communication to be effective both people have to be sending and receiving messages, right? And you know that just because you do not agree with someone's political beliefs doesn't mean they're Satan, right? And that you're definitely not going to convince them that you're right about anything unless the conversation is pleasant, right? I mean for sobbing out loud I have 8 political debates per day with folks, but they don't realize it's a debate, they think it's a conversation because there are no interruptions or name calling and it's civil. They're all talking our ears off because they think they're 100% right and that if you disagree with them on one issue then it doesn't matter what you say you have now become the enemy and their mission is to destroy you, and not to have a legitimate conversation. So much more would get accomplished if society wasn't so rude.

5. Narcissism

It's so bizarre to me that society is so depressed and yet so narcissistic. 13% of Americans take antidepressants, yet we believe we're the greatest country on the planet. Don't get me wrong though, I am all for having national pride. One of the things I found so beautiful about Costa Rica when I studied abroad there was how much pride everyone had to live in Costa Rica. Keep in mind this did not mean they thought they were better than anyone else living in any other country for that reason. It did not mean their lives were worth more than those in other countries. This is where society in the U.S. fails. So many people think their lives are more important than anyone or anything else. Think of how this makes us look for a second. If you're at a party and you have the option to sit next to a narcissist who is boasting about how great he is or a polite, comedic (but not at another person's expense), and thoughtful person who is going to ask you questions and actually listen to your reply... which would you chose?

4. Not Valuing Education

I believe that people haven't thought this through completely. Without education the society train doesn't move forward, and in fact I would argue it moves backwards. We're running out of water, how are we going to create solutions for this problem if people aren't even taught THAT it's a problem? Why is this such a difficult thing to comprehend for our society? If we funded education I wouldn't have to have conversations about the problems that are facing us, but rather I could be having conversations about the solutions and we could work toward real change. Cutting education funding makes the future darker. In order for there to be hover cars there has to be someone in school who is taught not only how to create one, but they're given the tools to do so and most importantly, they're told that they CAN do it.

3. Not Planning Ahead

This ties into point #4. I was listening to a podcast that was describing how there are some Native American tribes who, when making decisions, decide based on the effects it will have for 7 generations! Companies right now make quarterly decisions... they are making decisions and only looking at the repercussions for the next three months! How is this smart? Give me one valid reason to back up this method that is not "to make maximum profits right now" and I will take this point off my list. Sustainability only occurs when you make decisions based on an outlook far into the future. If you want your business to sustain into the future, you need to plan accordingly. If we want the human race to sustain far into the future, we also need to plan accordingly.

2. Not Taking Responsibility for Our Actions

Every time someone says "global warming is not real" I feel us regressing 10 years. Taking responsibility for your actions makes you a mature, responsible, likable, intelligent and productive member of society. If you fuck up and you say "I am so sorry, I messed up and I apologize, I am going to take a good long look at myself and work to correct this mistake and prevent similar ones in the future" you have just reached level 9 of adulthood, congratulations. What are people going to say to you now? They can't hate you, I mean I guess they CAN, but if you were sincere and you really don't do it again in the future, then these kinds of mistakes can actually build your relationships with people. This also applies to groups and societies in general. If the U.S. would just say "Hey, we messed up and made some very bad decisions, we sincerely apologize for them, we are going to work with victims to correct these mistakes, and we are going to take precautions to prevent similar mistakes in the future" there would be a sigh of relief from so many countries and our relationship with them would improve. We would be more likeable and we might actually start to be taken seriously. I mean just look at what traits you look for in your personal relationships.

1. Not Demanding Excellence

Again, this applies to our individual lives, our communities, and our country. We allow for folks to be uneducated, we elect and settle for mediocre (and sometimes terrifying) public servants, and we allow corporations to influence what we think, and therefore buy. I don't understand why, especially in this past election for example, we've allowed for a choice between two evils and we're satisfied picking the lesser of the two. If I go to a restaurant and they have two options on the menu, live scorpion and dirty diaper, I'm not going to just say "oh well at least scorpions have protein". I'm going to get up and walk out and chose a restaurant with options I actually want to eat. I realize a lot of this rests upon the fact that people aren't properly educated, so they don't even know that excellence exists and that it's possible to achieve because they've been brainwashed otherwise. And this is a very useful tool in getting what you want, right? Think about it. If you want your child to eat vegetables, but you want them to believe they're choosing their own dinner, you don't ask them what they want to eat because they'll never choose brussel sprouts. Instead you ask them "would you like steamed broccoli or brussel sprouts for dinner?". They will pick one and think they've chosen their dinner, when really you got what you wanted, vegetables on the plate. If we all decided to stop allowing those in power to do this to us, the society train could pick up so much speed.

I could have probably written 25 sins, but I chose 7 for the obvious dramatic effect. What would be on your list?

What To Do Now... Love

I fell asleep last night before the results came in. I knew I needed to fall asleep before if I was going to get any sleep at all. I also have been saying for the past few weeks to everyone around me not only that I could handle whatever outcome came from the election, but that they also don't need to panic. People generally have good hearts and we don't need to live in fear.

When I saw the news this morning I was in shock. I didn't think it was going to hurt as much as it did. I laid in bed for 45 minutes and I cried for probably a good 15 minutes. I didn't cry because "I lost", I was going to lose regardless of who was elected. I cried because I began thinking of all of the people who are going to have their lives permanently and negatively impacted by this result.

Then I remembered... that was going to happen regardless of who became elected. The fight wasn't going to be over with one presidential election. In fact, I would argue, the fight can finally begin. Think of how many people woke up this morning with a similar story to mine. When I was driving to work I pulled up next to a man weeping in his car. If this outcome didn't happen, I truly don't believe there would be enough outrage for any sort of action to take place against the establishment.

So now it's time to fight. And no, I do not mean go get your musket and lets start the second American revolution. That will never work, the government has drones now and we don't stand a chance. With this fight we need to pull out every resource we have with one focus, love.

Stay with me here. Whether you supported Trump or Sanders or Stein or Johnson they all had one thing in common, they wanted to take on the establishment. Regardless of who you voted for, that is one thing we all had in common, one thing we can all get behind. If you want this country to be a country filled with love and solidarity then you need to be the change you wish to see. You need to love everyone in your community, including those who may disagree with you. You cannot fight hate with hate and win. You cannot fight hate with force and win. The only way to defeat hate is with love. And that is how we are going to get through this. That is how we are going to win.

So many people say they're so upset that hate won. It triumphed last night and now they're terrified. Well I hate to break it to you, but the hate started a long time ago, and this election gave it a megaphone ON BOTH SIDES. If you deleted friends because you couldn't stand their political posts, you took part in the hate. If you said "I cannot be friends with a Trump/Clinton supporter" you took part in the hate. If you thought that Trump was going to be the reason why this country was going to be filled with hate, you forgot to look in the mirror.

This country is going to be filled with hate because we are going to fail to drown out the hate speech with love. The only way we can win this war against hate, against the current establishment, and against the status quo is if we all come together and love in solidarity. From now on, everything you say and everything you do needs to be coming from a place of love or do not say it and do not do it or the enemy will win.

I now realize it wasn't the election result that had me crying this morning, it's the divide I now feel in my community and in this country. So go and love your enemies and start the love revolution with me. And to everyone who is afraid I'm asking you to trust us and to join us, we will not let hate win. Straighten up soldier... there's work to be done.

Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time. - Maya Angelou

Water: Why You Should Worry About It & How You Can Help!

I get that right now there is a lot of fear circulating about the Presidential Election, Terrorism, and Gun Violence. While those are all valid concerns... water is the issue that keeps me up at night. The purpose of this blog was for me to be able to write about these issues without scaring the crap out of everyone, so I am going to try to keep a positive light, just bare with me until the end!

conserve water

How much water does Earth even have?

I'm going to break it down for you in a way that hopefully will make sense and not make me sound like a know-it-all. Here we go...

 

This photo represents Earth's water to scale.

The black arrow is pointing to all of the water on and above Earth including the oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, clouds, etc. As a drop it would be about 332,500,000 cubic miles and be about 860 miles in diameter.

The dark blue arrow is pointing to the drop that represents Earth's fresh water. This is all of the fresh water in streams, groundwater, etc. The volume of this sphere would be about 2,551,000 mi3 and form a sphere about 169.5 miles in diameter. Yes, all of this water is fresh water, which we all need every day, but much of it is deep in the ground, unavailable to humans.

The light blue arrow is pointing to the drop that represents the fresh water in lakes and rivers that people can actually drink. A drop that most of you will need reading glasses to see is how much water, something vital for our survival, humans actually have to use.

Less than 0.5% of the water on Earth is drinkable!

How much water do humans use?

This is a LOADED question. Obviously Ethiopians use far less water than Americans in the United States. Again, I'll break it down for you.

  • The average American uses 350 gallons of water per day (An average African uses 5 gallons per day)
  • 3.9 trillion gallons of water are consumed EVERY MONTH in the U.S.
  • 2.5 billion gallons are used per day on golf courses
  • We (Americans) use about 40 gallons of water per shower, 20 gallons of water per load of laundry, and 15 gallons per day brushing our teeth and washing our hands
  • 70% of usable drinking water is used in homes
  • It takes 2,000-2,5000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef
  • It takes 12,000 gallons of water to produce one bushel of wheat
  • The final prep of a meal at a fast food restaurant uses 1,400 gallons of water
  • Watering your lawn uses about 2 gallons per minute per square foot!
  • It takes 3 gallons of water to make a single piece of paper
  • Here's the kicker, it takes 2 liters of water to make a 1 liter water bottle!

That's not all... not even close... but you get the idea. #WastefulAF

At current consumption levels there is only enough water for 9 billion people. I would like you to keep in mind that this does not mean 9 billion total... there could be much more if we all used the same amount of water as the average African so do NOT blame this issue on population. It is a consumption issue first and foremost. "Many sub-Saharan Africans get less than 20 litres of water a day and two-thirds have no proper toilets. By contrast, the average Briton uses 150 litres a day while Americans are the world's most profligate, using 600 litres a day. Phoenix, Arizona, uses 1,000 litres per person on average - 100 times as much as Mozambique." (Source)

 

We're using it up... and polluting it at the same time

You may need to get a Disney movie ready because it's about to get super depressing.

  • 70% of industrial waste is dumped into fresh water
  • 15 million children under the age of 5 die every year because of diseases caused by drinking water
  • 85% of the groundwater in Bangladesh is contaminated with arsenic
  • ALL of China's groundwater is contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, and 20% is still used for drinking water
  • 14 billion pounds of garbage, mostly plastic, is dumped into the ocean every year.
  • The nuclear crisis that occurred in Japan after the 2011 Tsunami dumped 11 million liters (2 million gallons) of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
  • In America, 40% of the rivers and 46% of the lakes are polluted and are considered unhealthy for swimming, fishing or aquatic life.
  • On an average 250 million people worldwide succumb to diseases related to water pollution.
  • 80%  of the water pollution is caused due to domestic sewage like throwing garbage on open ground and water bodies.
  • As per U.S. EPA estimates, every year in the U.S, 1.2 trillion gallons of sewage from household, industry and restaurants is dumped in to U.S. water annually.
  • Over 30 billion tons of urban sewage is discharged into lakes, rivers and oceans each year. Two million tons of human waste is disposed in water everyday
  • And don't even get me started on pesticides... everything you spray onto a plant seeps into the soil and pollutes the groundwater. Not only are we using the groundwater faster that it can be replenished, but we are polluting it to grow our food as well.

According to the survey done by Food & Water Watch approximately 3.5 billion people in 2025 will face water shortage issues. This will be mainly due to water pollution. This is likely to happen because the world pollution is increasing tremendously with more water sources getting contaminated as a result of water pollution.

Makes you feel like an idiot for screaming at your coworker about the election, right?

Here's a graphic to explain ground water for those of you who need a visual

Here's a graphic to explain ground water for those of you who need a visual

How critical is the water crisis?

On a scale from slight gasp to full blown panic attack I would say have the Valium ready. There are already conflicts over water breaking out all around the world.

If you're like me and you find this absolutely fascinating and depressing at the same time then read Water Wars by Vendana Shiva. A used copy is like a dollar on Amazon right now.

And folks... the Southwest has lost 75% of it's drinking water! 70% of the water in the Colorado River is shipped off to supply water to 30 million people in the Southwest. Because of this overuse the Colorado River has started to run dry and not reach Mexico as it once did. 7 other rivers that have run dry because of over use are the Indus River, the Amu Darya River, the Syr Darya River, the Rio Grande River, the Yellow River, the Teesta River, and the Murray River. Keep in mind that these are some of the biggest, mightiest rivers on the planet!

5,000 children are dying every day from a lack of access to clean drinking water. 1.1 billion people to not have access to clean water.

 

How to help!

Glad that's over because as important as it is to understand the gravity of the situation, it is just as important that I explain to you what you can do! This problem is gigantic and we cannot solve it individually, but that doesn't mean you can just go back to your daily life knowing what you know now right? Right.

Let's conserve!

  • Embrace dry shampoo! Seriously. You only need to wash your hair maybeeeee once per week and use dry shampoo because your showers should be less than 5 minutes. And 5 minutes is like your luxury time!
  • Let your lawn die! If you have an irrigated lawn YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. Irrigated lawns are obnoxious, pretentious, and using way too much water for their value. Invest in fake grass or better yet, have your landscape fit your environment and plant foliage that is native to your area.
  • Turn off the water while you brush your teeth, lather the soap onto your hands while washing them, are lathering your hair in the shower, and any other areas that you notice the water running for literally no reason.
  • Stop eating meat! I know that's a stretch, but there's a no-meat-Mondays movement you can join because Agriculture uses 69% of the fresh water that could be drank! If you say no to 1 hamburger you saved 625 gallons of water!
  • Be a minimalist! It's a great lifestyle for many reasons, but one of the important reasons is because you'll be buying less stuff! That means less water was used in making it, transporting it, and the waste pollution from it won't end up in our drinking water!
  • For Pete's sake STOP DRINKING BOTTLED WATER! In 200 years humans are going to look back at us and just think about how stupid we were for this one cultural habit. As you already have read... it takes 2 liters of water to make a 1 liter bottle of water. COME ON.
  •  Cancel all of your junk mail! You're saving 3 gallons of water per piece of paper. Try to send emails instead of letters, read ebooks or used books instead of new, and never ever throw away perfectly good paper you can use to write on.
  • Save every drop! This is particularly important because whether you live in the desert like me, or in the rainforest, water conservation needs to be a habit for everyone! Just because it rains where you live does not mean this is not a worry for you. You can invest in water catchment containers (including your average bucket), fix leaks, turn off irrigation, and use drip irrigation instead of sprinklers. Plant your gardens on a slope so rain water runs off onto the plants.
  • Request less pavement and concrete and more landscape! We need to replenish our groundwater. Replace your concrete driveway with rocks if you can, ask your local governments to try to implement as much natural landscape as possible into your community as well! Rain water shouldn't be directed somewhere else when we need to replenish the groundwater.
  • Invest in water-saving fixtures such as for your shower head, toilet, faucets, etc.
  • TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW! Talk to people about how this is a REAL issue they need to be worried about and that they need to conserve water more than they need to do almost anything else in their daily life!

These are just a few things! There are so many more things you can do if you feel like doing more research. I'm trying to keep this as short as possible because you have a life to live and need to go start implementing some of these methods.

 I also do not expect you to fix the politics surrounding third world countries and lack of access to water, but it is good information to know so you can discuss it with people and open the dialogue because that's how change happens!

Black Lives Matter: A Quick Explanation For Good Hearted Folks Who Want to Understand The Movement

Disclaimer…

I am a white female who in no way is speaking for this movement. I have a vast amount of empathy for those who do not hold the same privileges that I was born with. It disgusts me, and I am fighting for equality because of that.  My goal is to strengthen the voices that the system is trying to silence through my privilege, but not to offer my own discourse on a problem I am not a victim of. I will stand with, and behind, but not in front of this movement. I know that nobody wants to hear another white woman’s opinion on this matter, so instead I am going to explain the movement for those people who do not understand it, but are good hearted in nature.

First things first…

I think it’s time to start sprinkling in political posts to my blog. To give you some background I’m an independent voter. I studied Political Science in college and graduated with my BA. In the future I will write a post outlining my political belief system. For now though you just need to know that I take each and every issue individually and critically analyze the issues related to it before I decide my opinion. You can trust that I do not hear an opinion and simply regurgitate it back to others as my own. With that said… here is my analysis on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Definition please…

It is extremely important that I start off with what exactly the Black Lives Matter movement is and means. I refuse to have debates about definitions. Here is an excerpt from the Black Lives Matter website. “#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.  We have put our sweat equity and love for Black people into creating a political project–taking the hashtag off of social media and into the streets. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.”

Explain please…

To explain this simply, Black lives currently do not matter (for various reasons that I will get into further) in many areas of society and this movement is looking to correct that so black lives hold the same values as all other lives that currently matter.

A history please…

Thinking about writing a complete history of how black lives have not mattered makes my brain want to explode. Honestly I may write an ebook about it or something similar in the future, but a complete history would make this post too long and everyone would move on. Here are the key points you need to know.

  1. Blacks (I will not say African-Americans because this will apply to Haitians, Jamaicans, etc) were brought to this very land originally as slaves (shocking right?). What this actually means is that these human beings were treated as property since before the United States was even a country. In turn, every single decision that was made about this country happened with the status quo making sure that only the folks who owned slaves made decisions. And that they did so with the intention of blacks always being slaves.
  2. This is important because it means, again, that every single law was written with slavery in mind. The freaking Constitution of the United States was written on paper that was milled using slaves, and signed by men wearing clothes that were created from slaves, while slaves brought them their brandy and waited on them through the Constitutional Convention.
  3. Moving along throughout history very rapidly, every decision made about the U.S. was decided upon with this slavery-infused Constitution. The racist tentacles are so far spread throughout this country’s justice system that to say there is no evidence of racism is short sided and very dangerous.
  4. Racism was an invention. After the emancipation proclamation racism was INVENTED by those in power as a tactic so they could stay in power. Hegemony is the term used by political scientists to describe this tool. They knew that in the south the number of blacks outnumbered the amount of wealthy whites and that meant they could hold more power. To combat this, racism was invented to ensure that even poor whites would feel more entitled than blacks. If blacks and poor whites came together to overthrow those in power they would win by a landslide. It was all about politics.
  5. Again, I could write a whole ebook just on the Jim Crow laws, but for the sake of this post I’ll just explain why they’re important. Another tactic used by those in power was to ensure that blacks couldn’t vote through Jim Crow laws. Since they couldn’t vote they couldn’t have a voice and they had no say in the political decisions that were made. So not only were those in power making all the rules, but they were writing laws with racist intent. This perpetuated the depth and scope of racism in this country’s justice system.
  6. An example of this behavior is when drug penalties were being decided. Since those deciding were racist these ideologies were implemented here too. Those who are found with 18 grams of cocaine are sentenced to the same time as those found with 1 gram of crack (more here). This is because poor and black communities predominantly use crack because it’s cheaper, and rich and white communities use cocaine, even though one is just the cheaper version of the other. This means more jail time for blacks for essentially the same crime as wealthy whites. There are hundreds of examples of this throughout our justice system so you’re just going to have to trust me when I say many laws were written to target poor, minority communities.

Explain what this means now…

Fast forward to today. Knowing just a few short facts about the history of racism in this country can help you understand how frustrating it is to hear that ignoring racism is the answer. Racism still is obviously rampant in our society. Ignoring it will definitely not reverse the laws that were written with racism behind the entire process. It also means that racism has become so normalized after 400 years that people believe the social inequities are “just the way it is”. This is very dangerous for black communities, as we have seen. This movement is not a push towards utopia for a society that’s already doing pretty well. Rather, Black Lives Matter is a movement that is trying to save an entire group of oppressed people and bring this country up to an acceptable level of equality. For those of you who are still not convinced, you are probably numbers people like me.

Explain the numbers…

  • African-Americans make up 13.2% of the U.S. population
  • Since the start of 2016 193 blacks have been killed by police (25% of all police killings)
  • There are 2.2 million black males in the U.S. prison system, and blacks make up 37% of prison inmates
  • The leading cause of black incarceration is non-violent drug offenses, even though whites do more drugs than blacks
  • 15 blacks have been shot by police since Kaepernick sat during the national anthem
  • A recent study pointed out that “a young Black male without a high school degree has a 59 percent chance of being imprisoned before his thirty-fifth birthday”
  • White households are, on average, worth 13 times more than black households. White people make up 64% of the country’s population, yet have 88% of the country’s wealth. Compare this to black people who make up roughly 13 percent of the population, yet only make up 2.7% of the country’s wealth. The median income for white families in 2011 was $111,146 versus $7,113 for black families.
  • Black people are more likely to be victims of subprime loans than whites with similar credit scores. They are also more likely to have a mortgage loan get rejected.
  • Blacks receive 20% longer prison sentences than whites who commit similar crimes

These are just SOME of the examples of black oppression in the U.S. I think this list is long enough to remove any doubt that black lives currently do not matter to the same degree as white lives in particular.

Explain what I can do…

Educate yourself. Here is a great website that will explain the numbers to you and you can look specifically at your home state. After, and only after, you have educated yourself, SPEAK UP. Talk about this to every single person you can. People within our society who say “all lives matter” are not inherently evil, they are just uneducated (another hegemonic to keep the people with power in power). If the stereotypes were pointed out to them as fallacies I firmly believe individuals would believe them and work towards reversing them. Not everyone will, stubbornness is an American trait for sure, but if even one person listens you’ve made a difference. For example, imagine that one person is a mom. After listening she now raises her kids to combat the stereotypes that are going to be tossed at them thanks to the current education system. Those kids are now productive members of society who will be apart of the solution. What you say matters. How you live matters. Do not settle for mediocrity and do not allow those around you to be mediocre members of society. People’s lives are on the line.

To finish…

This is the first post in a series that I will end up writing about this movement and oppression in general. I know it’s short, but the point is to give a quick explanation so people can read it and move on. I’m trying not to write novels and have people skip over it because they’re lazy (which I am also guilty of doing). If you have any ideas or comments write them below!

Why Millennials DON'T Suck

I’m sick and tired of the harsh stereotyping, degrading, and offensive discussion surrounding millennials. So for all my fellow phone addicted, Netflix binging, lazy, entitled, and all around misunderstood millennials, this is for you.

Why Millennials DON’T Suck

1. Older Generations Always Pick On Younger Generations

My first reason why Millennials don’t actually suck is because this behavior of older generations “picking on” the younger generation is not new. I recently had a long conversation with my mom about this topic. She described how her parent’s generation (the Baby Boomers) would constantly criticize her generation (Generation X) for being “dreamers”. They didn’t want to work hard on the farm and take it over for them like they did for their parents. They were seen as being “risk-takers”, and for spending energy on other things besides work, such as family time or a hobby.

My beef here is that now Generation X is acting like the seniors in high school who now get to take out their resentment on the new freshmen that they have pent up from when they were a freshmen. Stereotype after stereotype is being perpetuated about Millennials to the point where Millennials are starting to believe it themselves. I really believe this happened to Generation X too, and look at all of the negative consequences we are dealing with now because of it. The hatred and the bigotry I see is so unlike the stereotypes you were given in your youth. Could this be because of the constant negativity spat out at you from the Baby Boomers? It’s very likely to at least be a factor. So stop doing it to us. We like our passion and we enjoy our values and we would appreciate it if you would stop trying to morph us into you.

2. Actually, We’re Awesome

My second reason why Millennials don’t actually suck is because quite frankly, we are awesome. Name a stereotype and I bet I can find statistics to prove you wrong.

We’re NOT apathetic

Oh we’re apathetic towards politics you say? No, we just do not believe in the government you’ve left for us (talking to you Baby Boomers). The government failed us. There were no jobs waiting for us when we graduated. We watched our parents lose their jobs, homes, and pride during the Great Recession (that is still happening regardless of what the media is telling you). Our voting system we have in placed in rigged to elect people who do not represent us. Here is an interesting article discussing this point further if you’re interested.

 We’re NOT lazy

Oh we’re lazy you say? Give us a job and we’ll prove you wrong, oh wait, there aren’t any for us, thanks recession.

 We ARE ambitious

Oh we aren’t ambitious you say? We’re working at restaurants and call centers because we don’t want to starve to death, not because we don’t want to be President, Lawyers, Doctors, etc. We either can’t afford school, or there aren’t enough high paying jobs for us to seem ambitious. Millennials are going to community college because they’re poor, not because they don’t want a “quality” education.

 We’re NOT “addicted” to technology

We are addicted to technology you say? We’re not addicted, it’s how the world communicates now. It is impossible to build an empire without a cellphone, without a strong Social Media network, without access to news, media, and resources instantaneously. Technology is a resource that puts us ahead of the game, actually, so what you should be saying is “wow, look how great those Millennials are at communicating through technology, it sure is way more efficient than ravens and hand written letters like we used in my day”.

 We DON’T get offended too easily

Oh we get offended too easily you say? We’re not offended. We will not and do not settle for mediocrity. We want to live in a world with model citizens. If you’re going to make us look like bigoted, egotistical, arrogant Americans (the kind ISIS shows videos of for recruitment) we will not accept you. You see here older generations, it is not us that needs to impress you, rather it is you that needs to start trying to impress US. We outnumber you, we can vote now, we have a say now.  And my favorite stereotype of all time…

 We’re NOT entitled

Oh we’re entitled you say? I was a server in a sports bar for a year, and the one thing I have to say about this stereotype is that it is absolutely, 100% false. I would take a table of 22 year old folks over a table of 57 year old people ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. Not only will they tip better (when I know they have less money than the 57 year olds), but they will be kinder when mistakes happen (because it’s JUST wings and beer, PEOPLE ARE DYING). That’s really all I can say about this topic.. it is just simply not true.

3. The Media Isn’t Helping

Technology is allowing the media to keep a microscope on the activities on Millennials. Older generations didn’t have the same scrutiny that Millennials receive because nobody really knew what they were doing and thinking. There are so many platforms available now that allow for everyone’s actions and voices to be put into the spotlight. Our opinions on Facebook and Twitter are out for the world to see, whereas older generations appeared silent in their youth. Not that they were, however, but writing the editor and conversations within their communities did not allow for the masses to hear how they felt. It seems like Millennials are so much louder, but in reality our voices are just being heard. Also, the media is obsessed with Millennials. I have a few theories for why this is, but the media sees us as an easy target to judge and therefore causing viewers to develop the same opinions. As we all know, the media is bias. The general discussion surrounding Millennials is something along the line of how much we suck.

4. We’re Creative and Imaginative

My third reason why Millennials don’t actually suck is because of how creative and imaginative we are. It dumbfounds me how this is being shown as a negative stereotype, as if being a creative “hipster” is going to raise crime or something. The reality… we’re building homes out of buses because we can’t afford a mortgage loan. Even if we can get a loan, we watched the bank screw over our parents and rip it out from under them. We make our own cleaning products and other stuff for two reasons.

1.) We can’t trust products not to give us cancer thanks to the lax regulatory laws the U.S. has laid out for us.

2.) We have to reuse things because we can’t afford to buy new, name brand stuff on our server salary at our job we have to work because the market fell apart and didn’t leave jobs for us after college. Meanwhile we wait on 57 year olds who don’t tip because we don’t have the senior discount they feel entitled to.

We have been called the “restoration generation” for a reason. TBH, it’s either restore the destruction caused by older generations or perish (so we really don’t have a choice). We’ll be waiting for that apology, by the way.

 So loosen up…

So I know that this rant makes me seem sort of exactly like the stereotypical millennial who blames all of her problems on older generations without taking responsibility for her own actions. Although the blame is well placed in many areas, we are not asking for hand outs, we’re asking for older generations to cut us some slack and let us figure out our lives. We want to live our lives the way we want to without being seen as bad people for it. Our spirit isn’t hurting anybody. Nobody is going to lose their house if we make one out of a bus. No one is going to get cancer from our homemade products because we don’t cut corners to make a profit. Folks aren’t going to have to work for free because we tip 20% when a service is provided for us. There are plenty of people out there who suck, but as a whole, Millennials aren’t them.