Chicago in 3 Days

 

Looking to explore a new city? Want to experience a breathtaking skyline that’s also right on the water? It may be time to look into visiting Chicago. This past week I went for 3 days and really fell in love with the city. There are great deals on Expedia that will make it easier to travel on a budget and this guide will help you get the most out of your trip. 

Chicago Cubs

If you’re a Red Sox fan, Wrigley field will feel very familiar to you. It is the second oldest ballpark behind Fenway and has an awesome old timey feel. Wrigley is a beautiful field with great a great view from every section. There is history packed into the stadium and fun facts posted around the park to read up on the history of the Cubs. Awesome food, die hard fans and ice cold beer. Basically Boston, right?

The Bean

The Bean!

An icon in Chicago, the Bean can’t be missed. Located in the heart of the city in Millennium Park, it could not be easier to get to. Grab a Chicago dog from a nearby food truck and sit by the Bean for an hour or so. The perfect place to people watch and snap some fun pictures. There are other sculptures and artwork scattered around the park to check out too. Research restaurants around the Bean because there are many cool food joints hidden around the downtown area!

Art Institute

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat

After you’re done with the Bean, move on to the Art Institute of Chicago to explore an incredible selection of artwork. The institute carries an impressive collection of pieces from Seurat, Monet, van Gogh, Warhol and so many more. It is not hard to spend an entire day here exploring every wing of this beautiful museum. Be sure to check out the modern wing upstairs for very funky, contemporary paintings and sculptures.

Navy Pier

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What is better than an amusement park on a boardwalk?! Navy Pier is a fun place to visit while in Chicago, even if it’s only for half a day. On certain days over the summer they feature outdoor movies on the pier along with other cool activities. There are many fun restaurants, carnival rides, and boat tours to explore. The Navy Pier ferris wheel is the perfect way to view the entire Chicago shoreline from end to end. To make thing even better, the shuttle from downtown to the pier is always free and runs about every half hour! Grab a bite to eat and enjoy the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan.

John Hancock Tower

Sunset from the top of the 360 Observatory.

The top floor of the Hancock tower hosts the most amazing view for a sunset. An elevator takes you 94 floors up in less than a minute. When the doors open, you are greeted by floor to ceiling glass windows showcasing a 360 view of Chicago from a bird’s eye view. It is so peaceful being in that beautiful tower and a perfect way to relax at the end of a busy day exploring the city. You pay for admission to the top of the tower and can stay as long as you want. There is a fun new feature at the top called Tilt! where you lean against the glass at the top of the tower and hang out above the city. Very scary, but worth it for the thrill!

Chi-town is my new favorite city and maybe it will become yours too!

My Big Greek Vacation- Part 3: Santorini

I think I can safely say I saved the most beautiful place on the planet as the ending for my trip to Greece. Santorini is another island in the Aegean Sea and is primarily known for its sunsets. Many people say it’s the most beautiful place to watch the sunset, and I can’t say I disagree. Even looking back at my pictures I realize that no camera can capture Santorini. It defies technology.

Santorini was very easygoing. We spent most of it lounging around the pool in our hotel or out on the ocean. The ocean cruise was actually the best part of the entire trip. We were on a small ship with about twelve other people for six hours cruising around the shores of Santorini. We got to see the black, red and white sand beaches. There were cliffs made of lumpy volcanic rock due to the fault line right underneath the island. I got to sail right by an active volcano, so that was a little terrifying. The volcano was actually right off the coast of our hotel, so I got used to being near it after a while.

Back to the cruise. For me the best parts of it all were the few stops we made so we could jump into the sea and swim around for some time. It was like swimming in Mykonos only better. The water was crystal clear to the point where I could see fish swimming underneath my feet. One of the stops was at a hot springs by an inactive volcano, because there are actually two volcanos next to Santorini.

Santorini also has a cute town just like Mykonos. This one was called Oia (it sounds like EE-aa), and it’s the most famous in Santorini. It has the same white walls as Chora, but these are rounded with blue domes at the top. Despite the shops and all the great gifts they had to offer, Oia is most known for being the best place to watch the sunset.

Honestly, you could watch the sunset from anywhere and it would be just as beautiful. The view from my hotel was stunning. The first night we were there, I couldn’t stop looking out at the skyline during dinner. The sky looked like a pastel rainbow. That’s the best way I can describe it. The mountains and rocks looked lavender during the sunset too. Then there was the moon coming up opposite the sun, which is something I literally couldn’t capture it on my phone. I could watch it change right before my eyes. When the moon was lowest, it was bright red. The higher it got, I could see it change from red to light orange, when finally to yellow once the sun was totally gone. I really wish I could get a better description for you guys, because it was absolutely surreal.

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Surreal is the word that keeps coming up when I think about Greece. It was the best place I’ve ever been to in my life, and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who hasn’t been there before. You won’t be disappointed.

Being a Non-Music-Major Pianist

I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember. My childhood was more so a series of staffs, black notes and complex finger patterns than it was words or steps. I learned music as a third language (after English and Tamil), and it brought me a type of simultaneous joy and frustration that nothing else in the world brings me. It’s the fire that lights my every move.

I was 5 years old was when my parents drove me to my first piano lesson. I’d be lying if I said I remembered it like it was yesterday because I don’t recall it at all. I prefer it that way; it wasn’t some huge moment in my life. Instead, it was just what was meant to happen, simple as that. I’ve had 3 piano teachers in my life, each one growing in difficulty and sternness as I, too, grew. Although I don’t remember these first few piano lessons, I will never forget that rush when I’d struggle through a piece and make it through without a single false note. That rush started in my belly and glowed all the way up my esophagus. It was a pride like none other.

After those many years of youth piano books, I finally got into the good stuff. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and, my favorite of all, Tchaikovsky. I wasn’t anywhere near being a perfect pianist. Every piece I learned was tough, and I suffered through misplaced fingers, misread notes and misunderstood key signatures. I was so beyond frustrated. All I wanted was to be a piano maestro, taking one look at a page and playing it as fluently as I can speak a passage of the English language. All my friends were playing pop music in their lessons, and I craved the ease of Adele’s chords under my fingertips. I lost sight of the treasure that was classical piano.

What had always discouraged me from being the best pianist I could be was the fact that I knew deep down I didn’t need to be, even if I wanted to. I wasn’t planning on majoring or minoring in any music-related fields. Music was my past and present, but it was sadly not my future. So the hours when I should’ve been practicing my concertos and sonatas, I was instead grabbing iced coffee with my best friends, scribbling out my Calculus homework or researching about and applying to colleges. I had lost my innate passion for music and, rather, treated it like an annoying chore. I instead focused my energies on playing simple chords to my favorite radio songs and singing along to them with my friends. I spent most of my high school career partaking in open mic nights and talent shows, always accompanying myself and my friends on those trusty keys.

It had been a long time since I had played my classical pieces, and I mean really play them. I quit piano lessons by the end of my senior year of high school, preparing for the inevitable move to Boston. My beautiful, rich piano books began collecting dust in the corner of my living room at home, aching for their pages to be turned and set up against the piano stand. But I was a Marketing Communications major, now, and I had no business playing piano.

It was a few weeks ago when I came home for a weekend and went over to my living room (a.k.a. The music room). I play piano often when I come home, but typically Ingrid Michaelson or Ed Sheeran sheet music that I pull up on my laptop. This time, however, I picked up my favorite piano book, Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons. It’s a collection of twelve pieces for every month of the year. I set open the book to January: At The Fireside and began stumbling through the notes. That rush from my belly to my esophagus returned instantaneously. I felt alive.

The point is that music should never have a life sentence. Music lessons are not for children and young adults, until they frolic away to college. Music is not just for the Music majors. There is something so soothing and electrifying about really playing music and forcing yourself through those tricky pieces. I feel the best musician when my eyes glaze over staring at the measures of black notes, sharps, and flats and when I have to keep restarting a measure. It’s when I am the most determined, confident, and focused. It has shaped every aspect of my life, making me a more attuned person. Even though I am no professional maestro, I know I am still a pianist.

My Big Greek Vacation- Part 2: Mykonos

From Athens, Mykonos is just a thirty minute plane right away. From the moment I got off the plane, it was clear that the island was significantly different from the mainland. The roads are narrow and some aren’t even paved. The landscape is hilly with dry brown grass and bushes.

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Oh, and it’s windy.

I don’t just mean Chicago-style-windy either. When we went to the beach, the sand and water was blowing in our faces. We had to weigh down our books, towels and anything that weighed less than a cinderblock. I almost lost a 400 page book to the wind multiple times.

Despite the wind, it was still the most gorgeous beach I’ve ever visited. It was amazing really. While the island was dry and arid, the coastlines were absolutely stunning. I took so many pictures of the water that I had to delete a good number of them just to make room for other photos. Even with the pictures, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that there was absolutely no way I’d be able to recapture what it was like to stand there at my hotel and see the view. Swimming in it was even more surreal. I could see right to the bottom it was so clear. The cold water was so refreshing and so salty I could float without a problem. It was really interesting to be able to notice that the water had that much salt in it. It was a lot better than the New York and Florida beaches; I came out of the Aegean Sea feeling almost exfoliated.

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On the opposite side of the island from our hotel is a completely different kind of attraction. It’s the little cobblestone town of Chora. It’s filled with cute shops selling beautiful jewelry, soap, and all the Greek souvenirs you can imagine. The buildings were this nice bright white and they had bold blue shutters that caught my eye. They were small and simple but it was still awesome to see the interesting architecture I’ve never encountered before.

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They have beautiful bougainvilleas all over Greece, but this one in Chora took my breath away.

We did get lost in the town though. Multiple times. It was actually designed that way to confuse invaders, we were told by a local. The streets are all intersecting and you can’t really retrace your steps. Trust me I’ve tried. In a few cases I went in a complete circle. I was happy about getting lost though. Each street was a little different and I managed to find a cool magnet of Socrates while I was there.

Staying in Mykonos was an incredible three days. On the last day, we took a ferry to another Greek island, Santorini. Stay tuned next week for the third and final part of my Greek trip!

How to be an Ethical Shopper on a Budget

Of course, we all want to save the world. We want to end world hunger, war, and animal abuse. But, honestly, being one individual in the middle of over 7 billion people can make you feel really small and helpless. Yeah, there’s the phrase, “It starts with one person,” but can one person really start a worldwide movement and create change?

These are the things I think about when I’m shopping. I think about people like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. If they could create such positive change in this world through their confidence, leadership, and determination, why can’t I? However, I understand that I, like many others in this world, want change, but don’t have the time or resources to commit my life to the change. Alas, this brings me to the topic of ethical shopping. As a fairly broke college student living in an expensive city, it’s not so easy for me to exercise ethical shopping. I want to shop at the brands that I know have the same morals I do, but my wallet doesn’t necessarily agree with that. This is what leads many people in my demographic to the world of fast fashion; stores like Forever 21 and Primark who produce clothes rapidly and sell them for cheap prices. It seems like a great deal for people who want style on a low budget, but fast fashion companies are able to sell their clothes for so little due to the unethical working conditions of employees and wasteful disposal of clothes, among other issues.

However, it is possible to shop ethically on a budget, and here’s how:

Thrifting

One of the worst parts about fast fashion brands is that, when trends come and go, so do the clothes. Piles and piles of clothes are thrown out, and this trash is extremely harmful to our environment. A way to avoid this problem, without emptying your bank account on expensive brand clothing, is to thrift! Shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops has become much more popular recently. There’s something very cool to us millennials about purchasing “vintage” apparel and items. It’s a stylish look, but it also helps us prevent tons of waste! Rather than throwing out those old clothes, people donated or sold them to these stores who are helping pass these clothes along. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And the best part about shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops is that items are often sold for much cheaper than their original selling prices, due to the fact that they’ve been previously worn or used. All the better! You can save tons of money and still get some awesome new clothes, all while contributing to saving the environment.

Research

An important part of understanding ethical shopping is research. It’s difficult to know which of your beloved brands are ethical and which aren’t without doing some good old-fashioned research. You can find out a lot about a brand, including employee wages, where the items are produced, working conditions, and environmental impact. Again, it’s hard to find a perfect brand who gets an A+ in all these categories, while still being affordable. However, it’s all about baby steps. While you may not be able to afford a brand like that, you could look into brands who are pledging to improve. For example, H&M used to be considered a fast fashion brand (and still technically might be). However, last year, H&M worked hard to research ways to become more sustainable. They put out a new line called H&M Conscious, and all the clothes were produced with sustainably-sourced cotton. While this cotton only represents 43 percent of their total cotton use, their goal is to have 100 percent of their cotton come from sustainable sources by 2020. Companies like this, who are still affordable, but who are making strides towards more ethical production, can be good choices for people who want to shop ethically on a budget.

DIY

One of the cheapest ways to be an ethical shopper is to make your own clothes! If you’re someone who is creative and would be willing to put in the effort and time into making their own clothes, than this is perfect for you! Just as with cooking, making your own clothes ensures that all the materials and production were done as ethically as possible. Plenty of arts and crafts stores sell materials like cloth, yarn, thread, sewing machines, and buttons, and it could make for a fun home project. However, if you’re not necessarily the artsy type, you could always buy homemade clothes from other sources. Websites like Etsy specialize in handmade products sold by normal people. You can often personalize the product to be exactly what you want. It’s a less expensive way to ensure that your product is being created by an ethical source. In addition, you know that your money is going to a good cause: a hard-working individual like yourself, rather than a multimillion-dollar, greedy corporation.

All in all, it’s not impossible to be an ethical shopper on a low budget. You have plenty of options, and it’s all about starting small and making strides. It may feel like your one action makes no difference in the big scheme of things, but it’s all about conversation. Talking to your family and friends about the changes you’re making to your shopping habits can inspire them to do the same! While you may not feel as prominent in this movement as, say, Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights movement, you can feel confident that a chain reaction has begun.

Being Present

 

Credit: Pinterest

Last week I came across the above quote and it really spoke to me. Being physically present and being mentally present have two completely different definitions. Lately I have been feeling the absence of deep, meaningful conversations in my life and I yearn for that void to be filled.

I cannot remember the last time a phone wasn’t pulled out at some point during a conversation. When hanging out with a group of friends all it takes is one person to pick up their phone and everyone feels obligated to check theirs too. We have grown accustomed to the presence of technology and it is getting harder and harder to be fully present in day to day life. The truth about technology is saddening because no one my age knows how to entertain themselves without a screen. Someone whip out Yahtzee or Pictionary, PLEASE.

It may seem ridiculous to live without technology but pulling back from constant screen use is a great way to slow down your brain. Lock your phone and instead pass some time by reading, journaling or drawing…unleash the creativity! Once enough time is focused in a more constructive place than the depths of someone’s Instagram page a feeling of relaxation arises. There will always be time to be engrossed in social media but I hope more than anything that young people can learn to stay present in the more simple joys of life.

When having a conversation, I try to remind myself to continuously look someone in the eye and ask questions about what they are saying. That is the best way to show your true interest in another person. It is just too easy to get lost behind a screen when the world is going by around us. We walk around engrossed in the latest Tasty video or Snapchat story, completely oblivious to the beauty passing by with every step.

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It may seem impossible to go a full day without your phone but the experience will allow you to see the world a little differently. You don’t need that perfectly staged Snapchat video or Instagram story to show that you are having fun with your friends. There is definitely pressure in our world today about posting constantly to ensure that your followers know you are maintaining an interesting life. Your friends that you are hanging out with already know how much fun you are. Pictures and videos are great, but soaking in the memories with your eyes and ears is more organic and fulfilling.

It is always great to snap some pics of a new place or some cool food, but save the editing and posting until after in order to enjoy the rest of the day. People always seemed surprised when I say I left my phone at home for the day or night; it’s like a security blanket that is thought to be a necessity when I can function just as well without it.

Right now you are looking at a screen, as are billions of people around the world. Try taking a breather from all the screens and pay attention to the beautiful details all around you because the world is a lot more interesting than the Instagram popular page.

I snapped this pic before embarking on a beautiful walk down the beach a few weeks ago. Left my phone in the car (:

 

My Big Greek Vacation- Pt 1: Athens

My family is Greek. We’ve always wanted to visit Greece and experience the culture of our family and so we finally booked a two week vacation and headed over. I’ve just returned from said trip to Greece and I can safely say it’s the best vacation I’ve ever taken in my life. This is a country everyone needs to see before they die. From their islands to the mainland, Greece is stunning.

It’s the third most mountainous country in Europe, something I didn’t know until I got there. The capitol city Athens is actually in a valley surrounded by mountains on three sides with the sea on the fourth. It was also very dry and hot. It didn’t rain once while we were there but there was always a nice breeze even when the temperature in Athens reached above 100 degrees.

In all honesty, Athens itself isn’t pretty. It’s home to about five million of Greece’s eleven million people, and the buildings are crowded and littered in graffiti. In other words, Athens is like a regular city. However, it does have one major twist. The ancient Acropolis sits a few hundred feet above the city right in the middle of them all. Seriously, I could see the Parthenon from my hotel room.

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The Acropolis from my hotel window.

It was a real hike to get up to the Acropolis. My family and I had to stop and rest before finally coming face to face with the ruins that are thousands of years older than the USA. There are two main ruins up on top of the Acropolis. The big draw is the surreal Parthenon. This is the temple for the goddess Athena, who gifted the ancient Athenians and thus won the right to have the city named after her (according to mythology, that is). The other is a smaller but still gorgeous temple dedicated to Poseidon, another favorite of the Ancient Athenians.

Now I’m a writer, but overall I can say that everything in Greece I saw challenged me to even attempt to describe how out of this world the entire experience was. This feeling started at the Parthenon. It’s exactly like the pictures, but it’s so huge when standing next to it. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that someone built this. Ancient Greeks used perfect mathematics to form a giant temple that still stands today. Of course significant portions are missing and reconstruction efforts are taking place, it still felt amazing to stare up at these wide columns and symmetrical design.

The view from the Acropolis is also amazing. As the center of the city both today and in ancient times, you can see out over the whole city on all sides. I could see the Theatre of Dionysus, a theatre I was excited to see after learning all about Greek theatre at Emerson. I love Ancient Greek literature, so seeing the giant amphitheater where they would put on some of the most famous tragedies was, sorry to use the word again, surreal.

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The view from the top of the Acropolis
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Theatre of Dionysus! The ancient Greeks obviously didn’t have that screen or those modern chairs down there, haha.

Athens was such a new cultural experience that I won’t forget until the day I die. From the delicious gyros and fresh food to the after-dinner shots that comes customary after every meal, I think I discovered a whole new kind of eating experience to take back to America.

But, this was only the beginning. My family and I also visited popular Greek islands Mykonos and Santorini after Athens. Each had their own amazing and unique qualities, and I’ll tell you all about them soon!

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Just hanging out by the Parthenon

The Appeal of Brunch

Clink. Sip. Slice. Munch. Laugh. Repeat.

Brunch has become a staple of our millennial lives. There is something so intriguingly special about a Sunday brunch with your friends. The table is always overflowing with mimosas, home fries, eggs three different ways and always at least one pancake. But, what is the appeal of brunch? Why have we placed it on a pedestal far above lunch and dinner?

Our generation is all about finding new and healthy ways to branch out from our parents. We are the kale-loving, SoulCycle-going, meme-watching generation. And our lifeblood is brunch. It provides a rich experience unlike any other; a time with friends when we can eat and drink to our fullest, without being judged for the time of day. Think about it; ordering multiple drinks at lunch is not exactly encouraged and dinner can end up being a more formal experience. At brunch, we can indulge in something out of the ordinary while still managing to meet our budgets. It’s a delightful way to order something that isn’t a classic dinner dish and to treat yourself. Especially in the late morning to early afternoon of a sunny weekend day.

And, if it isn’t obvious already, millennials are positively obsessed with photographing and sharing the exciting details of their day-to-day lives. The best part about brunch? It’s always aesthetically pleasing. Creamy Eggs Benedict on golden brown English muffins, fluffy Belgian waffles oozing with fresh fruit and maple syrup, colorful arrays of delicious Huevos Rancheros and, naturally, the never-ending flights of tropical mimosas and spicy Bloody Marys. As soon as the server arrives with the steaming, heaping plates, iPhones immediately emerge and the perfect, Instagram-worthy photo can be captured within seconds. After all, what good is a beautiful brunch if your friends can’t eye it on social media and be completely jealous?

Brunch fits the millennial lifestyle to a T. We are always hard-working fanatics during the week, juggling internships, classes, jobs and meetings. On the weekends, we like to treat ourselves to giant fishbowls, endless dancing, blistered feet and greasy pizza at 2 am. And brunch falls into this category perfectly; it allows us to still sleep in a little later on weekends, still get delicious breakfast foods and efficiently combine our breakfast and lunches into one filling, luxurious meal. And, of course, most of us arrive at our brunch dates relatively hungover. Well, no problems there! Brunch can accommodate even the most nauseous, aching people; coffee for those who need something strong, heavy dishes for those who need to fill their pained stomachs with plenty of carbs and even more refreshing drinks for those who aren’t quite ready to give up their alcohol intake for the weekend.

Since millennials fall into such a broad category when it comes to what we can and can’t afford, brunch is the perfect middle ground. For those of us college students who are broke beyond belief, we can alway manage to afford a couple eggs, home fries and toast for a reasonable couple of bucks. And for those of us older millennials with more successful incomes, there’s always an indulgent smoked salmon omelette, Nutella and strawberry crepe or eggs Florentine on which to splurge. It’s the perfect meal time to find something everyone likes and wants to immediately Snapchat to all their friends.

Clearly, the appeal we millennials have found in brunch is the aesthetic, diversity, and luxury in it. It’s a meal we have made our own, shifting it from a classic diner platter of pancakes and eggs to something for which one would wait two hours in line. We can’t deny the thrill it gives us to wake up at 10 am, dress up nicely, and be seated at a table at 11:30 with our best friends, snapping pictures of our strawberry mimosas and golden brown French toast. It’s alluring, tasteful, and as classy as we millennials can get.

Being Brave

   We know there are phrases that will undoubtedly change our lives. I love you’sand I do’sboth bringing cheerful memories or associations along with them. However, there are other words we hope we never have to hear. Your little sister has canceris definitely on the list. I was fourteen when my younger sister, Grace, was diagnosed with precursor t-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

   I had been out of the country with my mom for a couple of weeks, and when I returned home my dad urgently requested that I come over the next day. I had no idea what was going on, but being fourteen, I automatically assumed I was in trouble for something. The whole drive over I prepared myself for a lecture that never came, but instead heard my Dad say the words Grace has cancer. Time seemed to stop at that moment. Everything felt heavy, the air, my limbs.  I didnt know what to say. Should I ask questions? What questions am I suppose to ask? How can you subtly ask if your three-year old sister is going to die? My dad kept talking about how the cancer was aggressive. At fourteen I wasnt aware that there were nonaggressiveforms of cancer. I focused on breathing. He asked me if I wanted to go play with Grace upstairs. I nodded.

   I went upstairs to play with my sister, unsure if I should be acting normal. At three years old one of her favorite games was dress up. I found her in her bedroom among assorted plastic jewels, shiny bows and itchy dresses. She was beaming when I walked in, proud of her collection. She handed me a purple hairbrush and asked me to do her hair. I slowly combed her soft brown curls while she looked through the assortment of bows and barrettes. After a few moments of silence, she said, Sissy, its okay if some of my hair falls out; its because of the medicine.I was stunned by her candid tone. I focused on brushing her hair to keep from crying. But then my sister turned around and looked at me and said: Its going to be okay, because Im being very brave.

   Today my sister is nine years old, finished with treatment, and less than a year away from being cleared. She has been busy helping organize toy drives and working with the hospitals dog-therapy program to help provide some joy and comfort to the kids still going through treatment. In her two years of treatment, she fought like hell to keep her spunk and sunshine demeanor, some days, though, got the best of her. Yet, on others, like the day at the park when two older boys made fun of her not having hair, she had the courage to go up to them and say, Well, I have cancer and Im cute. 

   Im so incredibly proud of her. I know some people are proud because she beat it. As happy as I am about that, it feels wrong to say because along the way I met so many other children who werent so lucky, and its not because they didnt fight hard enough. Im proud of my sister for keeping her spirit and positivity and having the insight to use them to give back even at such a young age. Ive tried to learn from her and have a more positive outlook. Thats why even though Grace has cancerdid change my life, Im choosing to focus on Its going to be okay because Im being very brave.

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Little Ways to Help Save Our Planet

Whether you’re interested in saving the bees, the rainforests, the oceans or even your local park, you should be reducing your carbon footprint as much as possible in the process. Although this is obviously not as influential to the grand scheme of a cause as making a donation, little lifestyle changes can still help you make an important difference in the world. I know how easy it is to fall into thinking that your changes are small and insignificant, but you could be the person that inspires someone else to make a change as well. And then the process continues. That’s how change is made. So here’s a list of a few ways you can start contributing to saving our beautiful planet before it’s too late:

Shorten your showers.

Did anyone else used to see those commercials on the Disney Channel, where Brenda Song explained how much water would be saved if we all just shortened our showers by 2 minutes? Well, she wasn’t wrong. An average shower uses 5 gallons of water per minute, so cutting off 2 minutes would automatically save 10 gallons of water (enough to fill a large home aquarium!) I love a long shower just as much as the next person, but those should be saved as a luxury and not as a part of a daily routine.

Unplug electronics and chargers while you’re not using them.

One of my worst habits is leaving my phone and laptop chargers plugged into the outlet behind my bed at all times. Believe it or not, this actually uses power, even if nothing is plugged into them. The effects of leaving a charger plugged in may be minimal when it comes to your electric bill (maybe 10 to 15 extra cents a month,) but if you think about the amount of people on Earth who use outlets, that number surely adds up. Unplugging a charger may be one of the easiest fixes on this list, so try to be conscious and take a few seconds to form this good habit.

Wash your clothes in cold water.

While most fabrics fare better in cold water anyway, many people ignore these instructions and hit the hot water button anyway (often due to the myth that this somehow gets clothes cleaner). In addition to shrinking clothing, washing laundry in hot water also wastes a lot more energy. Other laundry-related ways to save power and water include only washing full loads (you should be doing at most one load a week) and refraining from drying things that you have time to air-dry.

Turn the water off while you brush your teeth.

While dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for two full minutes every morning and night, no one ever said anything about leaving the water on for that whole time period. Most sinks use around 3 gallons of water per minute when left on, so that would about to 12 gallons of water a day wasted. Going back to an earlier point, that’s even more water than those two extra minutes in the shower.

Make the most of the daylight while you can.

Who else instinctively turns the lights on as soon as they enter their room, regardless of what time of day it is? I know I’m definitely guilty of that, and it’s a habit I am definitely trying to curb. I like to sleep with my blinds closed, and I always forget to pull them back up in the morning, meaning my room is usually dark. Instead of doing that and relying on the lights, I know it’s important to make the switch to opening the window during the daylight hours. Besides saving energy, this can also help improve your mood and make you feel way less claustrophobic in your room.