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Are you Prepared?

This isn’t a normal topic for LOLZ blog, but last week I thought about how the Winter Storm “Juno” didn’t affect New Jersey/Philadelphia as predicted.  While I was happy that it was’t as serious, it did made me think what if had closed down everything for a few days.  After graduating with a degree in public health, I can truly say staying healthy and safe (mind, body and soul) has always been a passion of mine.  While I no longer work in the field anymore, I do volunteer and educate to stay current in the field.

Then after spending time in Rochester last weekend, I realized I’m no longer in my “winter element”. If there was a snow storm in New Jersey, I don’t know if I would truly be prepared.

I was discussing with a coworker yesterday that it’s important to be life prepared. It’s important to be prepared so that you don’t “just run out of food”. It shouldn’t be the night before a storm and half of the town is at the grocery store.  The night before the storm last week, half of my town was in the grocery store.  Did we need those items?  Probably not…we could have made it through a day or two stuck at home.

The storm taught me a valuable lesson.  Despite not affecting us the way it was predicted too, it made me think about how prepared am I for emergencies?

How prepared are you?

Not only prepared with food but also prepared with making sure to have items like a flashlight or extra batteries incase the power goes out.

While it is true that disasters are relatively rare, they do happen. It’s better to be over prepared versus under prepared. Similarly, it’s better for the weather channel to overestimate snowfall versus underestimate.  If one life, injury or problem is saved because everything closed, then good.

After googling different ideas and lists to stay prepared, I came across this infographic!

The public health major in me says: when creating a food checklist, you should be detailed. Don’t simply gather random snacks from the pantry and place them in a storage bin.  Since you are preparing and putting foods away for later, try to have foods from each food group if possible.  Something I often forget is also making sure to also store necessary equipment and utensils to eat the food. Food checklists are an important part of emergency preparedness.  

Preparing for the Unexpected an Emergency Food Checklist Infographic

Source: Shop.Honeyville.com

When I got home from Rochester yesterday, I actually printed this out and stocked up on some food to keep in my pantry.  I can survive a few days without power and with food.

I decided to grab:

Canned: 

  • Canned meat including salmon, tuna and chicken
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned fruits.  I really like canned pears and peaches
  • 4 miscellaneous canned soups as well as black beans

For section 2, I opted against freeze dried foods.

“Staples”

  • Let’s be honest that we have enough instant coffee, sugar and cream packets to last a week already.

Some of my favorite snacks that we stock in the house:

  • Beef Jerkey (so much protein!)
  • Pretzels
  • Cheese its
  • Wasabi Nuts (Has anyone tried these?)
  • Cereal

Beverages:

  • We always have powered juice packets (It’s actually a staple in my current diet because you can bring them anywhere and I prefer that over water)
  • What are some good dairy options to keep stored?  I know almond milk doesn’t spoil
  • We have 2 cases of water and a brita filter stored too.

Equipment for food:

  • First Aid kit.  Every single family should have a first aid kit in their house and vehicles.
  • Quick Stove.  This is something I used in backpacking to make food when there is no access to power.
  • Utensils and food preparation: Make sure to have cutlery as well as a can opener and pan to boil water on a quick stove.

As you can see this is just one list to help in food preparation.  There are many more.  I liked this one because it gave me a good list of what to have.  

Questions for you:

Are you prepared for a big storm?

What are some foods you stock up on? 

 

 

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Lessons College Never Taught Me…

It’s hard for me to believe that college is starting soon again.  It seemed like just yesterday that my friends were done with the semester and coming home for the summer.  Now people are going back to college or even starting their freshman year!  I remember each trip my parents took with me to college.  Each 700 mile drive was unique in some sort of weird and awkward way.

I learned a lot about myself during college (both mentally and physically).  The most important lesson I learned however,had nothing to do with courses.  I learned about myself as a person.

I’ve written about my definition of success and happiness several times.  I’ve also written about struggling post college several times.  When I was in college, I thought one I graduated, I would easily get a job in my field, work and then I would be successful.  I did my college time and now the reward (a job) would flock to me.  It’s partially true that I interned then worked in my field at SUNY Oswego.  I loved it and truly enjoyed my time there in the public health field. I learned even more about myself, my field (public health) as well as my personal relationship with Tim.

In the late spring of 2013, I had an important decision to make.  A decision college doesn’t really prepare you for.

Do I move and get out of Upstate NY? 

I was dating at the time, and a long distance relationship won’t work forever.  He was finishing his training so it made sense for me to move down there.  Being in the military, Tim will never have flexibility to move where he wants.  It was either I move or we continue having a long distance relationship.

I chose to move.  In the fall of 2013 I moved and found myself unemployed with no job leads.  People asked me all summer my job plans and I said I have no idea, live off savings and find one.

Being unemployed came just one year after spending four years trudging through gail force -30 degree winds to class.  It came six months after digging my car out of snow banks for work.

I stayed unemployed from September until around March.  During that time we found out we were moving to New Jersey.  We had one of the roughest winters on the east coast and southern states weren’t prepared to plow (I felt like I never left upstate!)  I hit the job market at the worst time since businesses weren’t hiring.  The last thing they wanted (or needed) to do was hire for their closed business.  I ate away at about 75% of my savings that I saved the previous year working.   College never taught me about budgeting or savings…but I thank my parents often that they did.

I applied for jobs everywhere and in every field.  Quite frankly living in Del Rio Texas, a job was not going to happen.  I lived there six weeks but almost a year later (read: last Tuesday) I finally found a job in my field that I remotely qualified for.  (After getting dozens of emails to be road kill collector…I don’t know why I’m still on public health job list…or why collecting road kill requires a public health degree…).  I would have most definitely had to do something outside my college degree if I had lived there…which is fine but not anything college prepared me for.

So when we moved to NJ, I was more than happy..  So many opportunities that aren’t road kill collectors!  I probably applied to close to 30 jobs.  (I filled out about 100 job applications).  I applied for multiple public health jobs, running store jobs, even a substitute teacher (as I spent 3 years with a double math/education major).  I was bored being at home and financially it wasn’t going to work out well if I was going to stay unemployed for another year.

As good as my first year out of college was (job wise), my second year was as bad. That was something I was not prepared for.  The only thing that would have really prepared me would be living through this situation.

So when I got a call that they would have room for me at a local running store, I jumped on it.  After 8 months of doing nothing, it was a nice change.  Now working there about 6 months, I can say I fully enjoy it.  While college taught me how to solve derivatives at the drop of a pin, it didn’t teach me that I was also growing as a human.  I was learning how to educate people in health awareness but I was also growing and needed to experience these lessons for myself.  I wish college taught me that it’s okay not to do anything in your major as long as you are successful financially, mentally and physically.  If you can say all of those things as well as you are happy with your life, then college has taught you well. 

I regret nothing about my education, my post college life and where I’m at right now.  I’m enjoying my life, financially stable and successful both mentally and physically.  None of those things are anything I took a college course for but at the same time needed college for.

Questions for you:

What is one thing you wish college had taught you?

What has been your favorite job? 

College Change

College is so frustrating but post college is even more frustrating. (This will be a two part post)

When I went to college orientation way back in the summer of 2008, I met with my first of many college advisors.  I had decided I wanted to be a math teacher.  My dream at the time was to teach math to middle schoolers.  He told me that most college students change majors and most graduate with a completely different focus from where they started.  He also told me that math is a great major and I would not regret it.  If you have never had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Straight, at Potsdam, he is a great guy and I truly learned a lot from him.

But considering I had graduated high school I knew everything there is to know about my life.  I knew I was way ahead of the game and I was above those silly statistics.  I was going to make my college experience as streamline and perfect as possible.  I was going to make my parents proud.  I casually chuckled, brushed it off and declared my double major of math and education at SUNY Potsdam.

I began my freshman year of college in the tundra as Hollie the math and education major that swam.  I chuckle at that now just typing it out since it seems like a different life.

Look at us at orientation conquering the world.

Look at us at orientation conquering the world.

Freshman year of college I kept up with my self proclaimed title.  I studied, I made friends, I swam and I loved freshman year.  After freshman year when dad came to pick me up he asked if I regretted anything.  Despite my spring semester was spent taking all general education requirements (backpacking, human sexuality, modern dance, calculus 2 and a psychology course) I still enjoyed everything.  In fact that spring semester was my favorite.

This basically sums up my love for freshman year.

This basically sums up my love for freshman year.

I said no.  I loved math, education and swimming.  I loved my friends and people I had met.  My advisor knew nothing of me and I was going to beat those statistics.  I was not the “typical” college student and I was on a mission to conquer the world.  I was Hollie and I was a determined student.

——

Sophomore year was my favorite year of college. Not because of my courses but because I feel like I grew as a person.  I was 19 now and over the “cradle robbing phase”.  Second semester of sophomore year I really struggled with two math courses (linear algebra and set theory and logic) but made it through.  I began to wonder if I really wanted to teach middle school math but knew I wouldn’t be looking at those courses again.  I questioned my dream of being a math teacher but didn’t want to look like a failure.  I didn’t want to switch to a whole new environment.

I love you linear algebra.

I love you linear algebra.

I began to wonder why the #$% Potsdam made me double major in math when I really wanted to just teach algebra 1 to middle schoolers.  I passed all my classes and once again at the end of the year dad asked: Do you still think math is for you?  I responded with yes, of course.  Would I want to teach these college level courses?  No but I still love math and education.

I also had my best year of college swimming sophomore.  It could have been since I swam with all dudes but I had a lot of fun that year and having personal bests don’t make you complain.  During the summer after sophomore year I started to run as well to keep in shape for swimming.  I felt my identity changing and slipping.

Aren't I cute under water?

Aren’t I cute under water?

On July 4th I ran a 5k which prompted me to email the Potsdam cross country coach and join the team.  Things were already beginning to change my second half of college and I could feel the roller coaster beginning.

Preseason at cross country camp

Preseason at cross country camp

Then junior year came. Junior year was an extremely rough year for me.  I struggled with swimming and having personal worsts in the pool.  My math courses were only getting harder and making me miserable.  About the only thing going well for me was my first year of running but that ended in November and I became a full time swimmer again.  Throughout the first semester of junior year I had struggled with my new found identity and passion of running.  Explaining to people my interests had changed but then struggling once that season was done.  Anyone who swam with me junior year knew I was just longing to get back on the roads.  I was having a huge identity crisis my junior year and had no idea where to go or turn.

Classes made me question whether I wanted to be a math major anymore.  There was not one aspect of these courses I enjoyed anymore.  Not one.  I liked the education classes but ask my housemates at the time, I hated going to anything math related.  I felt like I was settling with myself. I drew pictures of my math teachers outfits in my notebook.  Sometimes I look back at my modern algebra notebook for humor.

I was also struggling with my personal life.  I felt the person I was dating at the time growing further and further apart and we were. I spent the later half of junior year just trying to figure out what I wanted and who I wanted to become.

Dad asked me again: Do you still love math and education but this time it was different.

I was no longer “Hollie that loved math, education and swimming” but I felt it was too late to change my major senior year of college.

I had grown a passion for running, for health and no longer enjoyed what I did when I was 18.  After all I was about to become a college senior.  A 21 year old college senior.

The summer before senior year I changed majors.  I decided I wanted to be a community health major.  Also that summer the person I had been associated with the last three years and I broke up. Three weeks into season, a freshman on the team asked me while we were kicking “If you hate swimming so much why do you do it?”.  First I was angry, then mortified then questioning how dare they ask a college senior that.  What do they know?  Well realistically they knew more than I did and I quit three days later.

 I felt like I had wasted three years of college.  Three years of courses, three years of me.   I was starting my senior year of college building from the ground up.  

But you know what?  I didn’t.

Senior year I stuck to myself.  I ran.  I took my health classes and I enjoyed my life.  My new adviser helped me assimilate into the community health classes and make friends.  I mostly stuck to myself and just focused on getting through senior year.  Since I had switched majors a year before my graduation I needed to spend an extra semester at my internship.

But I did it, I graduated in 4.5 years and found myself along the way.  I found my passions, my new interests and enjoyment.  I don’t regret anything in college because each experience made me grow.

megraduation

I went into college as Hollie the math and education major who swam.

I left as Hollie the community health runner. 

It’s funny how that worked.  My adviser had been right all along.  The majority of students change their majors in college.  You change, you grow and you have to take a leap of faith.  If I had never taken a leap of faith before senior year I might be teaching math in a middle school right now.  To the naked eye, that is great but it isn’t where my passion is or was.

I wish someone freshman or sophomore year had told me “Hollie if you are miserable, quit”.  Don’t get too far into a major to realize that isn’t for you.  Do what makes you happy and forget the expectations of others and society.

So I guess what I want college students or anyone really to take out of this post.  It may stink to change majors late into college.  Or you may feel like you are “letting the world down” by changing majors but there is a life after college.  Do you want to be doing that life?  You have to continue doing what makes you happy and as you grow older your interests change.  I don’t enjoy many things I did in high school, college or even post college.  My interests are constantly changing and growing.

You have to truly do what’s best for you.  If that means doing a 180 degree turn or looking at a different passion then go for it.  College isn’t wasted if you find out where your passions are.

Questions for you:

Did you change majors through college?

What is a one liner you describe yourself now?

I think I could say “Hollie the health orientated runner” though that sounds a little cheesy.

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