Climate Change

As some of you may know, the Amazon rainforest has been on fire for several weeks. This is important, not just because it is the only rainforest left of its size and diversity, but because it is invaluable to humans. Plants reverse the CO2 humans put into the air. Plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and produce oxygen. Without the rainforest, CO2 stays in the atmosphere and oxygen levels decrease. I don’t know how familiar you are with breathing, but I kinda like it……

When trees burn excess CO2 also leaks into an atmosphere already at its maximum. Considering the growing population of Earth, without the rainforest and other highly forested regions, humans will not have enough oxygen in the atmosphere to sustain our breathing.

However, the burning of the Amazon rainforest is not our only cause for concern (e.g., cruise ships, cattle, over-fishing, etc.). The temperature of the Earth continues to rise (for more information see the IPCC special report on impacts of an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius) and our environment continues to degrade. During the Climate Action Summit, 19 countries (not including the United States) focused on ways to address climate change concerns. Just because the United States is not included does NOT mean we cannot do our part in saving our environment!

Below are 5 simple ways you can help save our planet by making quick cost-effective lifestyle changes:

  1. Close knowledge gaps
    • Start talking: Many people are unaware of just how close to home climate change effects really are. By talking about these issues more often and with examples that apply to those we know, we can help others better understand the predicament we have created.
      • For example: Many believe, if brought back, the coal industry is a reliable source of jobs. However, the negative impact of coal on the environment and human health contradict the possible positive outcomes. It is less widely known that the coal industry is in a decline due to alternative types of energy, such as natural gas. Its revival is not foreseen anytime soon. Jobs can be created by land restoration/reforestation, as well as hydroelectric dams and solar energy farms.
  2. Use renewable energy when accessible. Below are the most easily accessible renewable energy sources
    • Solar energy – A once unaffordable alternative, now made more affordable with increased demand
    • Wind energy – If available in your area, there are steps to help identify if this source of energy is best for you
  3. Eat fewer animal products
    • Documentaries, such as Cowspiracy, give factual evidence on the effects of the overconsumption of animal products. Now, being mostly plant-based for almost four years now, I am obviously biased towards a plant-based diet. However, the facts are that we are running out of space for livestock. We are running out of fish in the oceans. And the greenhouse gases emitted from animal agriculture are contributing heavily to global warming. What I am not asking you to do is stop eating all animal products, but research suggests the consumption of fewer animal products. Additionally, consuming fewer animal products can result in incredible positive health outcomes. There is plenty of research out there to corroborate my claims, but you could also check out some of these documentaries:
      • What the Health
      • Forks Over Knives
      • Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
      • Food Choices
  4. Use fewer resources
    • Water
      • Clean water is at a shortage right now. Most of Earth’s water is saltwater and what remains of freshwater is in short supply due to wastefulness and Earth’s increasing population.
    • Reusable containers
      • Using reusable water bottles, utensils, dishes, and containers helps consolidate waste from non-degradable materials
    • Recycle
      • Reduces landfill waste
      • Reduces energy use for reproduction
      • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
    • Use public transportation/ride a bike
      • Saves money
      • Reduces pollution
      • Health benefits of physical exercise
      • Less erosion of road surfaces
  5. Do more
    • Buy more plants
      • Decreases CO2 in the atmosphere
      • Increases oxygen in the atmosphere
    • Eco-buying when you must make purchases
      • Eco-brands reduce water usage, use of hazardous chemicals, and produce less waste
      • Good on You can pair you with eco-friendly clothing brands
    • Turn off electric appliances when not in use
      • Saves money
      • Saves energy
    • Line drying
      • Saves energy
      • Saves money
    • Tap water drinking
      • Saves money
      • Saves waste from plastic bottles
    • Donating unused materials
      • Recycle clothes, shoes, household items, etc. – Making new use of old materials creates less waste
    • Carpooling
    • Low emission buying
      • Cars that run on non-renewable energy emit substantial amounts of CO2 and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming
      • Buying fewer, more eco-friendly vehicles, creates less waste and lowers greenhouse gas emissions
      • Table of renewable energy vehicles by energy source
Renewable EnergyBrand of Vehicles
BiodieselBMW
Ram
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Ford
Chevy
GMC
Jaguar
Land Rover
Mercedes-Benz
Nissan
ElectricityVolkswagen
Tesla
Smart
Nissan
Kia
Jaguar
Hyundai
Honda
Ford
Fiat
Chevrolet
BMW
Audi
HydrogenVolkswagen
Toyota
Subaru
Nissan
Mazda
Kia
Hyundai
Honda
Ford
GM
Fiat
Mercedes-Benz
Chrysler
BMW
Audi
Natural GasAudi
BMW
Fiat
Ford
Honda
Mercedes-Benz
Toyota
Volkswagen
Volvo
Ethanol
Propane

I Want To Thank All My Unfollowers

“A fixation with connecting with ‘friends’ online comes with the risk of disconnection with friends waiting for you to be present in the offline world.” 

– Craig Hodges

I’ll be honest with you all, I’m more granola than I am Instagram model. I’ve never been or thought of myself as sexy, or someone who could sell their face or body as some sort of brand. But when I started Be You. I realized I had to sell myself. I had to create this image of myself and be consistent and devoted to it. I needed to make those watching fall in love with the person I am, or the person I wanted them to see.

Be You. being built on the platform of welcoming real-life struggles made mastering Instagram really tough. Be You. is supposed to be a refuge for the different and unique, a haven of sorts where real life can happen and it be okay. I wanted a safe place for people to read about and engage with other people not oversaturated by what’s plastered on the internet.

Somehow through building my brand and trying to find other likeminded souls to travel this journey with me, I lost sight of the Be You. purpose. Yes, I am an internet-based entity, but what really goes on in Be You. happens in the real world. This means I have to be involved in the real world for the brand to work. However, the real world and success on social media very rarely coincide in the same space. I was constantly on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and you guessed it – Instagram.

You’ve read, or I hope you’ve read, about my journey to become more mindful. Now considering all I’ve just said about the devotion Instagram requires, how well do you think I was doing at living in the present moment?  Yeah…… All of my present moments happened on the internet. Liking others photos, leaving thoughtful comments, posting on my InstaStory, and even my movements through the world were marked with “Can you take a picture of me?” So now I’m editing photos and choosing the content. I’m coming up with thoughtful and relevant hashtags and deciding if this place is “cool enough” for a geotag.

And would you believe it? I was popular. The official Be You. Instagram had almost 10,000 followers. Each picture grossed between 400 and 600 likes. The website was booming with people reading my posts and engaging with one another. I was working with brands that fit with my own and I thought I was happy. But living in the moment, moment to moment, non-judgmentally and constantly engaging on social media to make sure you stay relevant don’t fit. They’re two puzzle pieces from two different boxes. I was popular in a world that didn’t exist – or only existed in an invisible, non-engageable, wifi space.

I deleted my Be You. Instagram and I focused on just my personal one. I figured I could slowly and organically re-grow my following through thoughtful engagement and posts. I could be normal, in the real world, and be just as popular. Boy was I wrong. I limited my Instagram time each day to 30 minutes and I lost 70 followers. I stopped posting as many pictures of me in tight outfits, or of me period, and I lost about 160 likes per post. I had restarted and I was being true to myself and my vow to live in the real world, and I was failing at gaining support for Be You.

Come to find out, my failure was inevitable. Instagram orchestrated this type of reception with their new algorithm.

  1. If you spend less time on Instagram they reward you by letting fewer people that may be interested in your content see it.
  2. If you change your caption they penalize you with less exposure.
  3. If you’re a normal person with normal person pictures then you don’t get as much publicity.
  4. If you’re a business account (which Be You. is because it’s a personal blog) and you’re not the most popular then people won’t see you, unless they follow one of your hashtags. My assumption is this hopes to promote “businesses” to pay for posts to be promoted.
  5. If you’re on Facebook (which I’m not anymore) then you get privileges from the two programs being owned by one company.

I’m sure there are many more, but those are the ones I found most consistently.

For normal people like me: A graduate student, with basically no expendable income, that doesn’t have time to constantly engage or create the most beautiful content to constantly supply the internet with, and definitely wants to get this doctorate sooner rather than later……it can be really tough! I don’t want to spend money to promote a post. I don’t want to spend, or more accurately, waste valuable time from my life devoted to internet “friends.”

But you do start to feel like maybe something is wrong with you, especially when the purpose of the content is authenticity. The interaction and posts that were working before are no longer working. Your platform, the one you were proud of before, is no longer intriguing to people. This is what caused me to go looking for reasons. What I found was your typical Black Mirror type trickery. Instagram takes your engagement and subsequently decreases your followers, to increase your personal engagement with the app by banking on your desire to gain that engagement back. Confusing, I know.

Well Instagram, even though you’ll definitely win the war with the masses, you’ve lost this battle to Be You. I hope they lose a few more battles along the way because there is nothing like being a part of this beautiful world. Even with all of the negativity and current political turmoil, when you have people that love you and true appreciation for the beauty and ingenuity of this world moments are priceless.

I think I’ll keep my “picture perfect life [versus the one] you lie about in your captions.”  

“Don’t Tell Me to RELAX”

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Audre Lorde

It’s interesting how our perception of being a grown-up, when we’re young, means freedom. Freedom from our parents, their rules, their house, etc. We spend our entire youth trying to “grow-up,” just to realize while we have more money than we’ve ever had, we also have more responsibilities and that work rarely ever takes days off.

Be careful what you wish for…am I right!?!

What would be an interesting twist is if adults kept that same sense of freedom, and viewed their different life circumstances as more opportunities for self-care, rather than more opportunities to gain more opportunities (you follow me?).

We measure success not by how much peace we have, but by how much we have to show for it. We measure our lives in external variables: Cars, homes, appearance, and in the world of academia and research, publications.

I found myself struggling with this desire to be great at what I do while maintaining an internal sense of peace. It wasn’t because I don’t love what I do, but because I wasn’t finding time to enjoy where I am. My days were filled with “trying to get there,” instead of “look at where I’m at.” I never stopped to enjoy my accomplishments before moving to the next thing. I never gave myself that extra boost or an “You know you’re amazing right?” I just kept moving and I kept depleting my engine. Before I knew it I felt like I was running on fumes.

What hadn’t occurred to me, in looking towards my future, was taking care of myself in the present. With how fast paced our lives are in this era, I know I can’t be alone in this! But it’s not that easy to just switch-up your life and give-in to self-care. Your mind wants to keep going. It wants to keep moving and working. We’ve programmed it that way. It took me a while to be able to truly start saying “NO” – BIG GIRL CAPS – to projects, take breaks throughout my day, plan vacations after each semester (even if they’re mini, on my grad school budget), and make an effort to reconnect with the creative side of myself that I love so much. I had become so focused on one part of myself that other major parts of my personality hit a standstill.

But if there’s one thing I know for sure in life, it’s that we don’t get second chances to be who we were yesterday. We have to pay attention to who we are now and really make an effort to enjoy ourselves, our lives, our loved ones and friends while we still can. Pushing things off until tomorrow, or next week, next month, or year pushes things to a future we don’t control and can’t guarantee. You don’t have to drop your dreams or your work ethic to just take a moment for yourself.

If you’re having trouble even knowing where to start you are not alone! Take a look at these 12 Self-Care Tips for Busy People, by the Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEP).

While you may resonate with all of the above, or many, you may also resonate with none, or very few. Don’t give up though, self-care is not a one size fits all process, so keep putting yourself first and keep trying things, because we all deserve a little peace sometimes ☺️