Intern Life: A Trip to DC

The last time I went to Washington DC, I was in grade school. I remember that my mom and my aunt brought me with them. They were so excited to see all the art museums and monuments.
I hated it.
I couldn’t have cared less about giant statues and boring pictures. I probably made my mom think I was the most ungrateful little brat under the summer sun.
That was our thing; my mom is a teacher, so if we were going to travel anywhere, it was always during summertime. I’d like to start off this post with a big ole, SORRY MOM!
Because for the first time as an adult, I visited Washington DC, and to be in the presence of so much history was exceptional.
I totally get it now.

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As some of you know, I’ve been participating in an internship with a nonprofit that works to end world hunger. Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) has not only been one of the fastest growing nonprofits in central Florida, but has also opened up my eyes to the opportunities around me; all I have to do is seize them!

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My first adventure with FCE was recent a trip on September 10th and 11th to DC with a bunch of other interns…and I didn’t really know any of them. It was a little nerve wrecking, but in hindsight, absolutely worth it.
We were headed to package 1 million meals for seniors in need through AARP and US Hunger on the National Day of Service.
And did I mention all the new friends I made by the end?

Our trip began with a flight out of Orlando at 5:20 am, which meant getting to the airport parking lot at 3:30 am.
Maybe it was the adrenaline of going to a place with a bunch of people I didn’t know to work my first hunger project that pushed me through, but the flight wasn’t bad at all. TSA was pretty breezy. We also had a lay over flight in Atlanta. It was surprisingly easier flying with a collective of people, despite barely knowing one another.

We arrived in DC around 10:30 am and grabbed coffee. A woman dressed to the nines, and I chatted for a bit while waiting in line. That’s kind of a thing in DC; everyone dresses like they’re really important. She told me about the sights to see and I told her about FCE. It was a new feeling, watching someone else’s eyes light up when I said we were here to package food. Honestly, at first it was kind of awkward, and then I realized we were actually doing something very impactful. Something good.

We piled into a big black chevy SUV and ubered (that’s not a recognized verb yet but like..it should be) to our Hunger Project site for set up. We arrived at the Washington Mall and started slinging boxes, 50 pound bags of rice and lentils and sorted hundreds of wet wipes. Riveting work I tell you.
I kid.
Seriously though, set up was a long day (and remember we all were basically running on no sleep), but we made it through. The jokes were free flowing, conversation was good. We were all finally starting to get to know each other.

I was exactly where I was supposed to be, with the people I was supposed to be surrounded with. It was enlightening and refreshing to be surrounded by all these new personalities and colorful minds.
We went out exploring that night. We shared laughs, snapped pictures and traded stories. It was a night that I’ll never forget.

 

 

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The next morning I was up and ready to go by 6 am. My hotel roomie and I dragged our luggage behind us, and made our way to the Washington Mall. It was go time.

Here we were, in Washington DC and we’d be working together to package 1 million meals for seniors in need.
The enormous white tent on Washington Mall housed 65 tables, each for 12-15 volunteers. It was filled with banners repping AARP and US Hunger. There were 5 shifts ahead of us. Each table had a volunteer in charge, called a table captain, and they would lead the rest of their volunteers on how to package the meals. It was a room of assembly lines unlike anything I’ve ever seen; I’d say it was very well controlled chaos. Each shift would last a little over an hour and then the current volunteers would file out while new ones came in.
For the next 10 hours, we were on.

 

 

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I never thought I’d see myself lugging 50 pound bags of rice and lentils and dancing while I was doing it, but life is funny like that.
The music was blasting from a DJ on stage, a peacock mascot waltzed around the room, AARP employees snapped pictures and even Carla Hall hung out on stage to amp up the event!  Close to 4,000 volunteers worked on packaging meals. Each shift contributed about 250,000 meals on average. We completed and exceeded our goal of 1 million meals for seniors in need.
That’s a whole lot of rice and beans.

When it came time to break down, I was covered in plastic bits, sweat, and onion powder.
We finished up cleaning and decided on one last adventure: The Lincoln Memorial.
It was about 6 pm and we had to be at the airport at 8 pm. We had a short window of time before dealing with TSA on 9/11, so why not?

Between set up, the night out, walking everywhere, hauling huge sacks of dried goods and break down, my legs were beyond over it. Still, climbing up those stairs felt symbolic.
To look out and see the reflection pond, to stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a lull of quiet, held so much significance. Those moments made me feel like we had come so far as a country, together. I also felt we have so far to go. But not in a bad way. More like in a way that felt so do-able, so possible.
Together we had packaged over 1 million meals for hungry seniors. If that doesn’t say that we can make a difference, then I should’ve just turned into a lentil and rolled down the stairs then and there.

 

 

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Our uber ride to the airport was light shift in energy. Aka, we sang along to some Beyonce and Neil Diamond.
Sing(read?) it with me…Sweeeeet Caroooliiiiiine, your turn: BAH BAH BAAAAAH
Always good for the end of a trip and just good for the soul, am I right?

We grabbed a bite to eat at the Dulles airport and chatted about things like activism groups, future travels and even some of our biggest fears.  After the flight we bid our sleepy “goodbyes and see ya next week” adieus, and it was finally time to go home.
So what did I learn? What’s the moral? The point?

I learned I am way stronger than I realized. Rice and beans got nothin’ on me. I learned how much I value travel and being surrounded by positive, well rounded beings. I learned that making a tangible difference is something that I desire to accomplish with my life’s work. I have to remember to push myself to be my best, to seize the moment, grasp opportunities as they come and embrace them all to make a difference.

Thanks for reading y’all, until next time. Much love.

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The Dinner Party Partisanship

I love a good family dinner party. 
Your aunt brings the garden fresh garden salad.
Your uncle brings his famous mac ‘n cheese.
Your cousin makes the best garlic mashed potatoes.
Your grandma bakes the cinnamon apple pie.
Your mom makes the biggest pork roast.
Your spouse makes their winning bacon wrapped scallops.
It’s about coming together, conversation and all the good foods!

Now lets switch gears.
Political parties are the same.
Some people fall on the conservative side of the spectrum, while others land on the liberal side. If you choose to stay between the two, you can always identify as an independent too.
Of course there are other subcategories, but without going to far down the rabbit hole, we’ll keep it to these three sections.

At the end of the day, we all eat together, so why the separation?
Depending on upbringing, personal opinions, virtues, values, and learned morals, each individual is entitled to their own opinions, should it not bring harm to others.
These are the separate dishes.

When these elements dine together,
a cohesive unit of humans should ideally be able to work and talk together.
The only way this won’t work, is when you’ve got that one family member who thinks their dish is the end all be all.
Everybody should only eat what they brought to the table.
Their big ole roast.
No bacon wrapped scallops,
no mac ‘n cheese,
no garden fresh salad,
no mashed potatoes,
no apple pie.

And that’s where we are currently in America.

I’m not here to tell you one party should surpass the other or that one is better.
I want a plate full of everything!
Same dinner party, remember?

However, we can’t work on problems equally, when one voice is on full volume,
while the other is getting
quieter

and

quieter

and

quieter.

Currently, republicans control the senate, the house and the presidency.
Until recently, the only area that acquired some level of equality, was the supreme court. However, Justice Anthony Kennedy has recently announced his coming retirement to spend more time with his family.
A simple google search will tell you all about how Justice Kennedy has been the major swing vote in many huge cases.

Now that he is stepping down, President Trump will be expected to hand select the next Supreme Court Justice. Now don’t forget, Justices are expected to serve until they either retire or die.
They’re in it for life; this is a huge decision to fall unto the Presidents’ lap.

Trump has mentioned that he has a list composed of candidates for the opening position. Considering he leads with a conservative hand, we can expect a conservative justice.

Without jumping to too many conclusions,
I would say it’s fairly reasonable to consider the idea that our country will then have a republican house, senate, presidency and team of justices.

This reality isn’t so farfetched.
When Obama was in office, the democrats controlled the senate, the presidency and the supreme court was pretty equal but fell towards the liberal side.
The house was the only part of senate controlled by republicans.

I see a bit of a problem with both instances.
One side is constantly trying to undo the other.
Instead of building each other up, we’re busy tearing each other down. It’s the same cycle with a different party.
The only way to change partisanship is go old school, reach across the aisle.

We don’t have to agree on everything,
some of us want steak and some of us want tofu.
We still sit at the same table, we still eat together.
I know I want a plate with a little bit of everything,
and not just because I was a fat kid growing up!

I want to hear about what everyone has been up to and how well they’ve been doing.
The dinner time conversation can only flow
when we’re all speaking at the same volume and taking turns.
We can’t keep trying to yell over each other, because eventually somebody hits the mute.

Now that I’ve got your wheels spinning I’ve one last thing to say:
Welcome to the dinner party,
what kind of guest will you be?

Wag-Worthy Fact: CBD oil is good for your pup!

Earlier this week, I was driving around town in my little red car.
I stopped at a red light and noticed a sign to my right that read:

“Get CBD oil for your dog here!”

I stared and stared, thinking I was reading it incorrectly.
The car behind me honked; I broke my gaze and drove away chuckling.


I live in Orlando, Fl. The city is a great big melting pot, encompassing all walks of life;
including people who sell CBD oil to pet owners. This prompted me to do a bit of research so that I could share it with you all.

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CBD oil is created from high CBD and low THC hemp product. CBD stands for cannabinoid and naturally occurs in marijuana plants. The most commonly thought of marijuana plants are grown for the purpose of harvesting and drying the flowers (nugs) and consuming them for the effects of the THC, which is what gets you high. Plants that are grown with a high CBD content and low THC content are utilized in various helpful ways.
For example, CBD oil reduces anxiety and stress while relieving pain.

CBD oil has been utilized on seizure patients and those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Another notable fact about CBD oil is that it is non-psychoactive; or in regular terms, it doesn’t get you high. Therefore, it is totally safe for you animal to consume.

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When would be an appropriate time to consider using CBD oil with your dog?
Maybe your animal has separation anxiety or is very sensitive to loud noises like thunder. Or maybe your animal gets aggressive or anxious around other people or dogs.

CBD oil can help soothe your animal, so that they can live their best life as your best friend. CBD oil is even claimed to fight cancer in dogs as well! The oil can help with heart health and greatly improve your dog’s appetite.

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For the best results, a high quality CBD oil will truly benefit your pet. You can adjust the doses by drops or even buy treats for them with the CBD oil already infused.
You dog will be thanking you in a plethora of kisses soon enough!

Thanks for reading, much love!


I do not own these pictures.
Sources:
https://www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/what-is-cbd-hemp-oil/
https://sciencetrends.com/what-does-cbd-stand-for/
https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/cbd-oil-for-dogs/

24 Lessons the Year 24 Taught Me

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1. I am my best self in the morning.
You really can be a morning person. I know I’ve mentioned it in past articles. I worked nights for many years, and quit being a night owl- cold turkey. I fully immersed myself in morning rituals and early bedtimes. I’ve found that I truly put my best food forward and I get the most out of my day when I rise with the sun. It has absolutely changed my life.

2. Take care of your mental and physical health.
Get your check ups, dental cleanings and try out therapy. When you feel good, you can do even more good. Mom and Dad aren’t going to make those appointments for you anymore, and you don’t want to be walking around with rotting teeth and a weird mole that you’ve been meaning to get checked out for ages now. All jokes aside, mental health is big now too. You are responsible for your mental well being. Don’t let your emotions rule you; don’t let mental illness take over your life. You can do this.

3. Venting about problems makes things worse.
Very few people actually should hear about your problems. When you complain about your problems, chances are that the other person is either happy that you are miserable like them or they don’t really care. Venting doesn’t make anything change, but it does make your mood worse.

4. Stop living your life to impress other people.
Again, nobody’s paying that much attention. Everybody is usually wrapped up in their own head. Do what you want, when you want and how you want. If it’s going to create something positive, don’t pay attention to anyone on the sidelines. 
You don’t need to prove your happiness.

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5. Do something you’re afraid of.
This year I really got into the flow arts. The flow arts are hula hoop dancing, juggling, dragon staff spinning, fan props and many others. This was fun but I wanted even more of a challenge. So I tried hula hooping with fire. As crazy as it sounds, it was so addicting and a lovely experience. I chose to surround myself with individuals that are educated on fire safety. What I learned is that, trying something scary can usually turn out to be really really exhilarating.

6. Moving will always be stressful.
Moving sucks. It always will. I’ve moved 5 times since I moved to Orlando 4 years ago. The only thing that makes it easier is to start packing in advance. And make friends with/keep in touch with family that have a truck. Other than that, it still sucks. There’s not much else you can do but brace yourself for the stress.

7. Having a savings account for random expenses is important.
You’ll get that unexpected parking ticket. You’ll need to pay those overage charges for when your A/C broke. You might get robbed. And unless you’re a mechanic, you’ll have to pay someone to fix your car when it does some funky stuff. Set aside money to save yourself the hassle of scrounging for change.

8. You will have less friends as you age, but they will be better friends.
This one is tough to accept. As you get older, people will move away for family or jobs. Relationships will change. There’s nothing wrong with that and you are totally allowed to be nostalgic. It’s important to recognize the difference between nostalgia and getting stuck though. Be fond of those old friendships but allow your new ones, or the ones that you still have to flourish in place. 

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9. Pity parties are no longer acceptable. Buy yourself flowers instead.
Self talk is something I struggle with. So when I feel like I’m really getting down on myself, I cut it out as soon as I recognize it. Show yourself some self love and even go buy yourself a cheap bouquet of flowers. It may feel funny at first but those flowers will make you smile when you wake up the next day.

10. You will only make as much money as you are willing to work for.
It’s all about the hustle. If you don’t have a side hustle or side job then you’re probably getting complacent. Unless you are totally established in your dream career and making millions, you could probably be innovating another income. Even millionaires continue to have side projects, why shouldn’t you?  

11. Painting furniture is awful.
This is another inevitable fact I came to learn this past year. It seems like a great idea to say “Oh it’s fine, I can just paint it all. It just looks like there’s four or five sides to it.” Until you realize their are handles and drawers and edges and textures. It’s the worst. Painting always takes long than you expect it to.

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12. It’s important to know what you like to order at a bar; have your own drink. Or be confident in knowing that you don’t like to drink.
If you like girly drinks and you’re a big man, order it with confidence. If you’re a girly girl and you know you like an old fashioned with rye whiskey, you’re probably my kind of girl. Whatever it is, know your drink. It’s your preference and it’s good to get to know your preferences.

13. Establish a style all your own and then refine it a little.
If you like wearing bright colors and patterns, make it work; make it cohesive. Or if you prefer comfy clothing, you can find complete looks with great materials that feel so good on your skin. Even if it’s only an extra 5 minutes out of your day to plan your outfit, it will show that you put in some sort of effort. Let your outfits flow and be an extension of who you are inside. You don’t have to buy the most expensive clothes to wear clothes with personality. Style does not equate to high expenses. Be you and wear what feels like you.

14. Having goals and plans will keep you moving forward.
Stagnancy is a drug. We too often get comfortable and then years pas and we wonder, what happened? Even small goals in fitness or making more time for family are important goals. Big career goals or creative goals are always possible too. Anything is better than not having something to look forward too.

15. But finding love will keep you present.
You so deserve to be loved in a healthy and satisfactory way. Passion does not have to be toxic. Love will greet you as soon as your stop looking for it. Don’t push it away though. There’s nothing cool about saying that you hate relationships. That’s like saying you hate the idea of somebody totally accepting you and celebrating you. Finding love will remind you to take each day as it comes, alongside your partner.

16. Fight with your partner- however, do it constructively.
Name calling doesn’t help. Violence doesn’t help. Lying doesn’t help. Why do we avoid confrontation? Because we connect fighting with these actions. Once you eliminate all the negative actions from fighting, what do you have left? A conversation. You can ask your partner: “How can I do better next time? What can I change to make things work better?” Or you can say “This certain thing upsets me and I would like for you to consider why it does.” A conversation can solve something. Negativity cannot.

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17. Bad things will happen; then more bad things will happen.
When it rains, it monsoons. The best you can do is keep a sense of humor. Breakdowns are normal. Learn from them and you will be stronger.

18. Be Safe.
Don’t drive without your seat belt on or text while you are behind the wheel. Take a cab or an Uber or have a friend pick you up when you’ve been drinking. Don’t walk around the city at night alone. These are all common sense but your safety is important. So there’s your sign!

19. Some of your ideas will be unsuccessful, some will be epic.
That’s why you take risks.You have to get all the crap out of the way to get to the good stuff. And if you don’t even try to get the crap out of the way, you’ll NEVER get to the good stuff.

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20. Taking trips is important. Get in touch with history and culture.
Even if you only go an hour away, give yourself a chance to learn something new and experience a new area. Our brains are wired to take in new information. I’m all about that daily grind, but it goes back to being stagnant. Find that balance between working hard and branching out. History and culture are two aspect of life that feed your soul.

21. You deserve to be cherished and valued.
You are worth a real loving healthy relationship. Sometimes we all need to remember that. Don’t settle. Look yourself in the mirror everyday and ask, “Am I getting the love I deserve?” If you aren’t, keep it moving. I’ve chased after too many people who frankly, just enjoyed being chased. There will be someone out there for you that will chase after you too.

22. Realize when you are have unrealistic expectations and let them go.
Letting go of expectations is the quickest way to find happiness exactly where you are. I struggle with this one everyday. Appreciate everything and simply expect nothing.

23. There’s no other feeling like jamming out to your favorite song.
Do it regularly. Have a dance party. You’ll feel fantabulous. You’re never to old to feel fantabulous.

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24. Good things take handwork and time.
Patience! Patience! Patience! I say this to myself often, but still not often enough. Life will grow and flourish as it should. We’re all on our own timelines, lets make it count and watch all the great things ahead of us unfold as we diligently work hard to reach our goals and get better everyday.

Thanks for reading! Much love~

4 Stellar Beings in Black History

After a few polls on instagram, it became apparent that astronomy was the topic that most people were interested in. With the beginning of February comes the start of black history month; so I decided to merge the two stellar topics.

One light year is equal to roughly 5.87 miles. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is 100,000 light years in diameter. At around 5.9 billion kilometers away from the sun, we have Pluto. However, our solar system doesn’t just end at the planets in orbit; the speculation continues but we don’t really know the precise area that our solar system ends. To make you feel even smaller, there are an estimated 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. That’s 200 billion possibilities for other solar systems, whether they be in the past, present or future; because remember, stars are ever growing, changing and exploding. 

Astronomy is the study of these planetary objects, space and stars and all galaxies. The stars and planets beyond Earth may feel far away, but in the current scheme of universal life, we are the closest we will ever get to be. Since we are all byproducts of celestial explosions and star formations, we’re all inevitably connected. That’s a lot to take in.

Despite that connection, African American astronauts and astronomers are unfairly far and few in between; and with that limit, these remarkable humans are still under-acknowledged. Without further ado, here are 4 astronomical African Americans.

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Mae Carol Jemison-

The Stanford and Cornell graduate was the first African American woman sent to space.
She’s also been in an episode of Star Trek and has nine- count them- NINE doctorates. She’s spent over 190 hours in space. I’ve spent 190 minutes on NASA’s website. She’s pretty amazing.

 

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Charles F. Bolden-

As the first African American man sent to space, he clocked over 680 hours in space.
He also served in the Marines and was also acknowledged by Barrack Obama before retiring. Also, check out that mustache; can you say suave?

 

Edward-Banneker-1Benjamin Banneker-

The self-taught clock maker and mathematician began his work with astronomy in 1773. He was able to precisely calculate solar and lunar eclipses.
He created charts and tables of celestial and planetary positions that grew into published almanacs. Also, I particularly love this illustration because he looks very sultry, but still means business.

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Beth Brown-

She was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Michigan. She worked primarily in NASA’s X-ray Astrophysics department. Beth passed away in 2008.

I know this article is coming off sort of like a book report, however I wanted to acknowledge these incredible humans. Next time you look at the stars, I hope you think of these folks that were able to sacrifice and work for us all. The study of astronomy is a service to us; to bring together people and maybe even other types of life one day. The intergalactic possibilities are endless in the future. However, all we have is now. The galaxy exists not only above and around us, but within each of us. Right now we can practice gratitude for the people that made understanding our astronomy possible.

Links

https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/solar-system-0/
https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-space/solar-systems-in-galaxy.html
https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/materials/listbytype/African_American_Astronauts.html
https://www.thoughtco.com/benjamin-banneker-3072227
https://www.biography.com/people/benjamin-banneker-9198038
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beth_A._Brown