Author Archives: Lauren Muellner, Education

Christmas time is here

We made it through fall semester and I am anxiously awaiting my grades.  A little nervous about that.  My goal was to keep my 4.0 GPA up. But one of my classes really challenged me this semester and I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep that GPA.  At least doing things for Christmas, like decorating and shopping, help keep my mind off obsessing over it.  I’d like to share some of my holiday traditions with you.

Christmas shopping.  It definitely can be stressful but I have most of it done.  With little things here and there, I should be able to finish within a few days.  It’s all the wrapping that is going to take the most time. Last week, I worked 6 days straight (both jobs, with a couple 12-14 hour days) so I definitely didn’t have time, nor the energy, to do anything.

We buy a real tree every year, which is the best.  We go to this empty lot full of trees from Michigan that’s by my house.  I like purchasing my tree from them because they’re farmers.  This guy and his wife do all the hard labor, cutting down the trees and transporting them to us, AND they have to live in a trailer for weeks.  It has to be challenging for them.  It wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t have a real tree.

Christmas Eve is my favorite part of the holiday.  My immediate family and I gather at our house and we eat a HUGE steak and lobster dinner.  We play music and games and then after dinner, we open presents.  I’m REALLY excited for the gifts I am giving this year.  I put a lot of thought into all of them.

Christmas Day will be a bit different for us this year.  In past years, we would split the day between my mom’s side and my dad’s side. We’d have dinner with my mom’s family and snacks and dessert with my dad’s family.  It’s a very long day because it is a TON of driving.  However, this year my dad’s side is coming over to our house to have Christmas dinner, which we’ve never been able to do before. My grandparents usually have it, but they’re getting to the age where it’s too much work for them.  So, this year I will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home.

For New Year’s Eve, I still have no plans.  My boyfriend and I can’t figure out what to do.  We don’t really want to go out.  Most places are way too expensive and way too crowded.  But we don’t want to stay home.  My friends all kind of do their own thing, so that option is out.  We have no clue what his friends are doing.   If we go to the city, we’d need to stay in a hotel and that can get expensive.  I’m running out of good ideas.  I’m definitely the kind of person that needs to plan ahead, too.  However, last year, last minute we ended up going to dinner with his parents and went out and sang karaoke all night. We had so much fun! So maybe I should try to be more spontaneous since it worked out so well last year.  It might kill me, but I’ll try.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

These are a few of my favorite things

Remember how Oprah used to have her “favorite things” episodes, where she promoted her favorite books, movies, gadgets, etc.?  And then she would give the audience one of everything?  Well, here’s my favorite things list, except you won’t be getting anything out of it, except maybe some holiday gift ideas.  But hey! That’s still good! Some people never have any idea what gifts to buy for their people for Christmas.  That’s a gift itself!  I give you the gift of knowledge!

My favorite things:

(In no particular order)

1) Apple MacBook: Yes, I realize that most people can’t afford to give a computer for Christmas.  If you can, well…I’m jealous.  But if it’s something they really want (or you really want), It’s always a nice idea to pay for a small portion.  The only downside is that there really is no surprise.  Last year, I really needed a new laptop.  I mean, my HP wouldn’t even connect to the Internet anymore.  So, my boyfriend and I went to Best Buy and I opened a credit card (no interest for an entire year), and he put some money into it.  I easily paid it off before the year was over, was happy with my new computer and he was happy he didn’t have to go shopping.

2) Gift card to a restaurant: Who doesn’t love food? I mean, come on!  It’s always a good gift to give. It not only allows that person to go out for a meal without paying, but also it gives them a break from cooking, which is ALWAYS a nice thing.

3) Movies:  Getting someone a DVD always works.  Unless you give them a movie that was totally horrible like “Gigli” or an exercise DVD.  It MAY not be a good idea to give someone an exercise DVD unless they ask…then it seems you’re trying to tell them something.  “Grandma…maybe you should lay off the bon bons,”-dead man walking.  Well anyway, here are some of my favorite movies:




4) Personalized photos:  You can go online to a photo-printing website, such as, upload some photos and create pretty much anything with your memories. Picture books, coffee mugs, T-shirts, cards and stationery, phone cases, blankets, magnets, coasters and my personal favorite….calendars.  I made one for my mom one year and put pictures of family and friends throughout each month. That was in 2010 and she still has it hanging up for the photos. It is a gift that has meaning.

5) XL Wine glass: For all you of who are 21 and over…this is pretty funny.  This wine glass is pretty big.  So big that it holds an entire bottle of wine!  You can give it as a gag gift or to someone who really likes their wine.  Ellen DeGeneres had it on her show one day and said…”Well, you can still say that you only drink one glass of wine a night.”

6) A massage: I love getting massages.  The only way that a gift certificate for a massage would bomb is if the person you’re giving it to was totally weird about strangers touching them…while being naked…I mean…the masseuse isn’t naked…you’re naked…well not completely naked…but you’re under a sheet with not much clothing…and the masseuse doesn’t SEE you naked.  Well, hopefully you would know if they’re weird about strangers touching them.  In my opinion, anyone who gets me anything that is meant for relaxation or stress relief gets a gold star.

7) Arts and crafts: I usually try to mix it up a bit each year.  I buy some gifts and I make some gifts.  If you time manage well, especially with something that might take a while, you can give someone something that you are really proud of that has a lot of meaning behind it.  Kind of like when you were a kid and brought home a ton of artwork you did at school that probably wasn’t very good, but your parents hung it up anyway because YOU made it.  It’s the time you spend and the love you put into it.  And sometimes…it turns out really good :).

8) Candles:  Another thing that I think everyone likes and can use. They can use it to create a nice smell in their house or for light if they’re trying to cut back on that massive electric bill.

9) Chocolate: Who doesn’t love chocolate?! Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? That’s right…because everyone loves chocolate (unless I’m wrong and you just really don’t like chocolate).  It’s USUALLY a safe bet.  Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.  Unless you just look on the back of the cover where they tell you what kind of chocolate is in what spot. Before they started doing that, it was always a big risk.  Every time I bit into a piece of chocolate and jelly poured out of it, I immediately spit it out.  Yuck!

10) Books: I love getting books as gifts.  It’s a bit more difficult to finish one nowadays since I’m in school.  But for Christmas, it’s perfect and I have time to read since I’m on break.  Get your person the next book in the trilogy they’re reading or a new bestseller!  Or if you’re rich and buying people a bunch of Macbooks, you can get them a Kindle! I’m one to physically have the book in my hand, though.  It’s such a great feeling to be immersed in a book on the couch, with a blanket and a hot cup of tea.

…and those are some of my favorite things.


Almost there!

Sometimes getting sick, or feeling sick, is all mental. There were sick children all around me this week!  The kids I nanny ALL had the flu and I LOADED UP on vitamins.  One week left of class! I need to make it WITHOUT getting sick.  I’m almost there!

Who am I kidding? I definitely have the flu.  Since sometimes it is a mental thing, I have been trying to tell myself that I’m fine. “I’m not getting sick,” “I feel totally fine,” “I won’t get sick because there is SO much going on the next couple days,” “PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, LAUREN!” Well, it hit me when I was actually giving my presentation in my Thursday night class.  I started getting all sweaty and clammy so I sat down.  So, I left class early and went home to bed after apologizing to my group and explaining why I sat down in THE MIDDLE OF OUR PRESENTATION!

Speaking of this semester being practically over, I am wrapping up all my final projects.  One is a project I’ve been working on for a couple months that I am very proud of and the other was a group project that was…eh OK.  “Everyone loves group projects,” said no one ever.  I was actually pretty lucky with the group I had.  In most group projects, there is always one person who doesn’t pull their weight.  But with my group, everyone had been pretty productive.  However, putting everything together had been quite a difficult task.  I had my ideas of how presentations should be, and someone else had another.  I did my part (actually more than just my part) and I received a rather interesting email from a group member asking “why I feel it needs to be that way.”  Well, it’s almost over, so there is no reason to get chippy.  It is what it is.  The funny part is, the disagreement is only on the handout to give the class, probably the least important aspect.

The other night I attended Bill McKibben’s “Do the math” tour about global climate change.  It was truly inspiring.  This was the audience photo at the Atheneum Theatre where the event took place.In the words of Bill McKibben, “We are going after the fossil fuel industries.  We need to divest in the fossil fuel companies.  Why divestment? Well, we know that fossil fuel companies are principally concerned about two things: their bottom line and their public image. A nationwide movement forcing our schools to divest from fossil fuels will deal a serious blow to both.”

There something we can do. There is already a divestment campaign under way at the University of Illinois.  Click here to “Like” UIUC’s Beyond coal page:

I am going to do some more research about how to find, or start, a divestment campaign at UIC. Stay tuned for more information!

Giving thanks

I know this is little late, but I want to devote this blog post to the Thanksgiving holiday.  I remember when I was little and we would go around the table to say what we were thankful for before we started eating on Thanksgiving Day.  I was never sure what to say, not because I wasn’t thankful for what I had, but because I don’t think I realized truly how lucky I was.  Now, as I am older and I have seen good and bad, I have been through thick and thin and I know what I have is precious, I have a million things to say at the dinner table. But since I didn’t want to hold everyone up from eating the AMAZING food, I give my thanks in this post.

I am thankful for my parents.  My mom has been one of the most important people in my life.  She has been my best friend.  No one works harder than she does.  She has made me the woman I am and I truly do not know what I would do without her in my life.  My dad has taught me so much about music, art and the beauty of life and love.  I am thankful for the text messages I receive from him telling me that he loves me.  I proud of the success he has made for himself and the work he does to support our family.

I am thankful for my amazing boyfriend.  I was lucky enough to meet him a little more than two years ago and have an amazing relationship and friendship with him.  He is so good to me and I am thankful every day I have him in my life.  I am a very lucky girl!

I am thankful for my brothers.  Being the youngest and only girl hasn’t always been easy, but I am extremely lucky to have two older brothers to always look after me.

I am thankful for my friends.  I have the best friends a girl could ask for.  Friends from elementary school, high school, college and beyond.  They are people who I hope will be in my life for a very long time.

I am thankful for my jobs.  I have not only one, but two jobs.  I have worked at one for over 10 years and the other for a little over a year.  At both, I am blessed to have great people to work for and with.  Even though working two jobs can be difficult and creates long days for me, I realize some people don’t even have one.  I am very lucky.

I am thankful for having the opportunity to be in school. My experience at UIC has been great and my teachers have taught me so much. 

Mama said they’ll be days like this…

Last week was a rough one, to say the least.  Monday, I had to nanny for 12 hours.  Blah! The kids are great, don’t get me wrong.  But they are a handful! I ended up missing class because the parents were stuck working late themselves. What are ya gonna do? Not that I encourage missing class, but it’s the end of the semester and things are starting to wind down a bit.

The 6-year-old has an internal alarm clock.  Ya know, like the one you have when you can sleep in but you wake up at DAWN for no reason at all!?  Well, his alarm clock is a little different.  Pretty much every day between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., the boy just goes crazy.  It’s like he saves up all his energy from the entire day and starts swinging from chandeliers and climbing up the windows.  I don’t even know!  Now, the 8-year-old is an extremely smart kid.  He always has his nose in a book.  But when it’s time to start homework, he does everything in his power to delay.  I usually make the kids a snack when they get home from school.  Well, he will eat and eat and eat so that he doesn’t have to start his homework.  Then, when he is finally stuffed, it still takes quite a bit of coaxing to get through homework.  It’s definitely always a challenge.

By the end of the night, I was ready to go home and curl up in a ball with a blanket and sleep for 10+ hours.  Kids should come with a warning label because they’ll do that to ya.

NOT even close to the worst part of the week.  The next day started like any other day.  Every day I take the 20-month-old to the library.  They have story time for 1 and 2 year olds.  It’s always a nice way for young kids to socialize if they’re still too young to be in school.  We were starting to get ready to leave.  I was in the living room with the baby and started to walk into the adjoined kitchen to get tissues to take with us.

Next thing I know, the baby runs across the hardwood floor and slips.  Well, at first I wasn’t sure because he is a baby after all and falls all the time.  But this time, it was different.  He immediately started crying and it was a different kind of cry.  I knew when I picked him up that he had bit through his mouth and was bleeding pretty bad.  So I took him to the kitchen, wet a bunch of paper towels and was trying to stop the bleeding.  It was just getting worse because it was bleeding inside and out.  At that moment, I knew I had to call his mom.  I tried to remain calm but I started shaking.  I was getting so upset because this was the moment that I realized that my little man was really hurt.  Apparently, kids get more upset and scared when they see you upset and scared.  Never show them you’re upset and scared!!  Lesson learned.  I called my mom and she kept me calm and told me to put ice on his lip.  Duh! ICE!

Then, the dad calls me.  Here we go again! I totally lost it on the phone that I could barely talk.  Then the baby started crying again.  I hang up the phone and just held him while I kept repeating “It’s OK, it’s all OK, it’s going to be OK.”  I’m not sure if I was saying that to him or to myself.  I just felt so horrible.  I put the TV on “Sesame Street” with the OK from his mom (usually, children under 2 shouldn’t watch TV), and he was completely quiet.  I was able to put the ice on his lip.  His mom came home and we took him to the doctor.  Turns out, he was running so fast that he slipped and fell right on his face causing his lower teeth to go completely through.  POOR BABY!  He is a trooper, though.  This kind of injury heals itself in a week, especially in children so young.  He was already acting normal a couple of hours later with nothing but a fat lip, a lot of drool and some scabbing.  I, on the other hand, was not OK.  The mom took a sick day and said I could go home because I was kind of traumatized from the whole thing.

This is what it looks like now.

Can you believe it looks like there is NOTHING there? Oy vey! I would do anything for these kids even though they make me have to cover up the gray in my hair more often.

So, the week definitely ended up better than it started.  My other class was canceled so I was able to have a night off AND I got a pay raise (WITHOUT having to ask!).  I guess things just have a way of working themselves out.

What did I take away from this week?  When I have kids one day, they will wear helmets and mouth guards everywhere.

Food for thought

Now that the election is over and we don’t have to see or hear anymore of those awful campaign ads, it is time that we look forward to the next four years. Whether you voted for Obama or not, life still goes on and it’s time to unite, support and encourage each other as a nation.

On that note…no more political talk for awhile.

I was watching the WTTW show “Check, Please!” and I thought it would be a good idea to have my own favorite restaurant list.  Being Chicagoans, we have the luxury of having amazing food all throughout the city and suburbs.  From pizza to Chinese, I have a lot of favorite food options in Chicago (and neighboring suburbs) that I suggest checking out…

Pie-Eyed Pizzeria: 1111 W. Chicago Ave. (312) 243-3735

I love this place. The pizza is amazing and they are open late for all you night owls.  Pizza isn’t the only thing these guys serve.  From cheese fries and Italian beef to fresh salads and desserts, you can always find something that you’ll love.  They’re always playing good music and the people there are awesome.  They have lunch specials every day and it’s super easy to get to…right off the Chicago Blue line stop. And don’t worry if you don’t feel like leaving the UIC campus…they deliver!


Inari: 7428 W. North Ave. (Elmwood Park) (708) 583- 2800 

Love, love, LOVE their sushi! But they have tons of options if you’re not really into raw fish.  They have a cool heated outdoor patio area.  Their lunch specials are a steal and even for dinner they aren’t very pricey like some sushi restaurants.  I also highly recommend their dessert!



Cafe Iberico:737 N. La Salle Drive (312) 573-1510

If you like Tapas, THIS is the place to be! It is a very big place and always packed! Their menu is big but simple with cold plates, hotplates, Entrees and dessert (of course!).  If you like a little bit of everything, this is the place to be. They are also known for their Sangria! Dinner for two can easily be under $50.


El Cid: 2645 N. Kedzie Ave. (773) 395-0505

Great Mexican food! I love the area it is in.  Their prices are good and they have live music!! What can be better than that? It’s a great place for a date or a night out with friends.  The owner is always around and likes comes to your table to make sure everything is perfect.  Just an all around good experience!


Pappadeaux: 921 Pasquinelli Drive (Westmont) (630) 455-9846

Do you love seafood? Because I LOVE seafood! This place is huge! They have tons of options on their menu but make sure you bring people to share with! The portions are all quite big.  They have musicians that walk around and play music while you eat. The atmosphere is super fun and you ALWAYS leave with a full belly!


Quartino: 626 N. State St. (312) 698-5000

Another place that is great for a date or a night out with friends! Their flatbreads and pastas are to die for.  And don’t forget to try the Sangria.  Another favorite! Prices are not bad but be prepared to wait for a table. This place is always packed so try to make a reservation first.


MingHin: 2168 S. Archer (312) 808-1999

Located in Chinatown, this place is rated one of the best Dim Sum Seafood restaurants around! I have never had such amazing Chinese food in my life! I was amazed at how great every single thing was (even if i didn’t know exactly what it was).  Actually, one of my professors at UIC introduced me to this place and I cannot wait to go back. I highly recommend checking this place out.

What are some of your favorite spots in Chicago?

Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. I’m always looking for new places to go!

Happy eating!!

Where does the time go?

October is over.  That means it’s getting colder (yuck), the days are getting shorter (yawn) and the holiday season is upon us (believe it or not).  The MOST important thing though is that we only have one more month of school.  HALLELUJAH! This semester has been pretty difficult for me and I’m ready for it to be over.  Once I think that I’m over the hill on projects and papers, another due date pops up, then another and another.  Even my teacher said, “Wow, it’s one thing after another, isn’t it? haha”

Totally not amused.

In class last week, after handing in our 20-page papers, some of my classmates were talking about which issue they were going to write about.  I quickly chimed in asking what IN THE WORLD they were talking about. There is ANOTHER paper due in a week.  WHAT?!?! How did I miss that on the syllabus?  Am I losing my mind?  I am usually on top of things that are written, plain as day, in the syllabus.  And then, I start thinking about what else is due in November…ugh because IT IS NOVEMBER now!!

(Note to self: Quick! Re-read the blog about managing stress!!)

One thing I am worried about is maintaining my 4.0 GPA.  It was my goal to do so every semester.  THIS semester, however, is giving me a run for my money.  I have to admit that I reached the point where I am preparing myself for a B in one of my classes.  I know, that sounds so….perfectionist and nerdy.  But I have worked so hard to get to where I am today, that simply getting a B would echo “You didn’t work hard enough in this class.”

On to other things!  Updates from previous blogs…

Hockey: STILL in lockout…and they aren’t any closer to a deal.  All games are cancelled until November 30th and they are discussing canceling the Winter Classic.  October 25 was the deadline for a regular 82-game season. Total bummer.

Halloweenie: My Halloween costume that won 2nd place! Kids of the 90s would recognize us from the show “Guts” on Nickelodeon.  I even made the aggro crag!! It was a good Halloween!

I carved a pumpkin!! I know. It doesn’t really look right.  The nose and eye kind of became one.  It’s ok! I had fun doing it!

I also went to Reaper’s Realm Haunted House.  I was terrified from the moment I walked in to the moment I got in my car.  In one of the rooms, I’m pretty sure I just stood in the corner facing the wall with my eyes closed the whole time.  NEVER do that.  They sense your fear and then pay even more attention to you.  All in all, one of my top 3 haunted houses.

I saw “Sinister.”  I actually really liked it.  I haven’t seen a scary movie in a while that I was scared 100% of the time.  My scarf doubled as a good blindfold so I could avoid seeing “Mr. Boogie’s” face.

On Halloween, I was on trick-or-treat duty at my house.  Although, we didn’t really get that many trick-or-treaters.  The kids I nanny were a pirate and a spy for their school parade, and a vampire and werewolf for trick-or-treating.  The baby had skeleton pajamas and a mask that stayed on for about 30 seconds.  And yes… I was told to by their mom to raid their candy.  Otherwise, they would be bouncing off the walls for the next couple weeks, which is no fun for me.

Lastly, Tuesday November 6th is Election Day.  Please, please, please…get out there and vote!!!!

Happy Halloweenie!!

I am really excited for Halloween this year! I didn’t end up doing anything last year for Halloween except eat a bunch of the candy that the kids who I nanny collected.  What? It’s not like they were going to eat it all!

Anyway, this year I’m doing it all! Haunted houses, dressing up, carving pumpkins, watching scary movies and maybe I’ll even go trick-or-treating!

Here are the haunted houses I suggest checking out:

Haunted Sanitarium/Theatre on the Lake- Right by Lincoln Park Zoo.  It’s $10 to get in the haunted house.  You can hang out in the haunted cafe where they play scary movies and sell hot chocolate and apple cider while you wait for your turn in the house.  It’s scary.  But the last time I went, I recognized some of the actors working there. Kind of took me out of my spook.  BUT everything else was awesome!

Six Flags Fright Fest (Gurnee)-  I haven’t been there in a few years because it’s pricey, about $40-50 to get in. It is pretty cool, though, if you have the cash and can make the trip out there.

Statesville Haunted Prison- I’ve never been and have been wanting to go SO bad! It’s in Crest Hill, near Joliet. Tickets are $20 for groups and $30 at the ticket window. It’s supposed to be one of the scariest haunted houses out there. It takes about 40-50 minutes to get through.

Fear @ Navy Pier- SCARIEST HAUNTED HOUSE I HAVE EVER BEEN TO! No joke people. I was terrified while just waiting in line! But there is bad news…I guess you’ll have to wait until next year because they aren’t open this year.

I was going to have a list of some movies that scare me into the Halloween mood, but it was becoming a very long list and then I realized that it’s probably because I get scared at pretty much everything.  You name it…ghosts, demons, vampires, zombies, psycho killers, killer dolls, possessed children, sharks, asylums, no hockey season…(you get the point).

So, here is a short list of some classics to catch: The Shining, Halloween (all 50 of them), Poltergeist, The Exorcist, Seven (“What’s in the box?!”), Night of the Living Dead, Shawn of the Dead, Pet Sematary,   28 Days Later, Blair Witch Project, The Omen, The Ring.

And if you’re stuck on trying to figure out what to be this Halloween, I was going through old pictures and found some from previous years…

Fanta girls, Miami Vice, The Joker, Catwoman

Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Mario & Luigi

                                        Whoopie Cushion and Michael Myers

                                                  ARRR…a Pirate and Cop

I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to be this year but I’m REALLY excited and I will post pictures next week.  I will give you a hint: It’s from a show that was on Nickelodeon in the ’90s.

Stay safe and Happy Halloween!!!


I am woman, hear me roar

My mother raised me to be a strong woman.  I say what I feel and I do what I believe is right.  I stand up for what I believe in and I try to be a better person every day. My family and friends have my loyalty. I would do anything for them.  My family makes fun of me because when someone starts trouble with one of them, I am known to jump in and give those troublemakers a piece of my mind (Wow! That makes me sound so old.).  They call me a “brawler.” When in reality, I maybe have been in one physical altercation my whole life that wasn’t really much of anything.  I just don’t like anyone messing with my people.   I am definitely not perfect but I try to do my best.

I say this for a reason…I am going to get a bit personal in this week’s post.  I am going to talk about something that is very important to me and I hope it’s important to you, as well.  Whether you are female or male, I urge you to reflect on this.  Some people will disagree.  Actually, I’m POSITIVE that people DO disagree with me on this.  This is what I believe and I am standing up for it.

As I have stated before, I love politics.  I have educated myself on issues and I love to debate.  However, a couple issues that hit very close to home and affect not only me, but every female out there, are women’s health and rights.  Now, I consider myself liberal. However, when it comes to this issue, I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, YOU do NOT have the right to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body and I should have the same rights of any man.

I’m sorry, the excuse of religion is a poor one.  First of all, we SHOULD have a separation of church and state.  Secondly, I attended a Catholic elementary school as well as a Catholic high school. I know the Bible. Treat others the way you want to be treated.  What happened to that one?  These so-called “religious politicians” are NOTHING like Jesus.  WWJD? He certainly wouldn’t oppress, that’s for sure!

I am just horrified and angry that there are people out there planning on making decisions of what I will and will not be able to do with my own body just because it’s what THEY believe!!  Where am I going to be in a year or two if certain laws are passed that limit my choices as a female? What kind of world will I be bringing my future children into?  That is a question I often think about.

The negative connotation that goes along with the term “feminism” always bothered me.  Why is that term deemed negative and extreme when according to, feminism is defined as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men”?  I just want to be treated equal and there is nothing extreme about that.

Here is the link to find your polling place.  I urge you to educate yourself on the issues and vote!!

Stress relief

I am at that point in the semester when I have to throw my hands in the air and wave ‘em like I just don’t care…well, I wasn’t going to say those words exactly but I went with it.  I was going to say that I have to just let go and try not to get so stressed out.  I admit that I let myself get stressed out too much.  It’s something I am constantly trying to change.  Let me begin by explaining how my undergraduate program was.  I went to Columbia College Chicago and I majored in Theatre.  Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t have a ton of work to do and was never stressed out.  But the work was a VERY different type of work than I have now.  I went to class and worked on acting techniques, I read plays, memorized lines, performed and worked on improv games.

So, how can I handle my stress now when I have a gazillion articles to read, 20 page research papers to write, observations hours to fill, presentations to work on, and projects to do WHILE I am working two jobs?

The first thing that I have to do is figure out how to make the time to do the things that keep me grounded.  It’s a lot harder than it sounds.  I joke with my friends and say, “If I had no job, no boyfriend and no friends…sure, I could get all my work done!”  The sad part is, it’s kind of true.

Here are some things that I am trying to make time for that bring me back to earth (and maybe it’ll help you too!):

Dance.  I love to dance.  It is something that allows me to totally let go.  Maybe it’s just for that one moment or that one song, but it’s a release, none the less.  Sometimes, I will dance like a fool just to make my friends laugh and see other people’s reactions.  This past weekend I did the Elaine Benes, the Carleton, the running man, the kick line (by myself), the tap dance, the Shakira, and a few others that my boyfriend is probably trying really hard to forget he witnessed.  If I can laugh at myself, I can be reminded that life shouldn’t be so serious all the time.

Eat dessert. Who doesn’t love dessert? Everyone who knows me, knows I love my dessert.  And believe it or not, I had a few pictures of me (on different occasions) stuffing cake in my mouth.  Don’t ask me why.  But I wasn’t about to post those.  But maybe sweets aren’t your thing.  Whatever it is, yummy chocolate cake or delicious salty potato chips, once in a while, JUST INDULGE.  You’ll be happier.

Exercise.  Duh! I know that I have to exercise after eating a whole chocolate cake.  So, I have a gym membership.  It is just a matter of making time and getting yourself pumped! “Wow, I really regret working out today” — said no one ever. You always, ALWAYS feel better afterward. And you can do something that you enjoy doing.  If running on the “dreadmill”doesn’t do it for ya, take up Yoga or Zumba.  Play a sport or go walking with music that gets you motivated.

Be creative.  Something that always works to relieve my stress is art.  I love painting.  It’s something I can do while I listen to my favorite music and it allows me to tune everything else out.  I started painting in high school and never really stopped.  Doing something that is completely original makes me feel so renewed.  A lot of times in life, we say, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”  But devoting yourself to a blank canvas and creating absolutely anything you want, can give you a little push when you look at the finished product.  It makes you think, “Wow! What ELSE can I do?”


Sing. Sometimes you just need to sing like you’re on “American Idol.” Go for it! I love singing in the car.  I stopped caring what other people think and will sing at the top of my lungs (The picture to the left is Exhibit A. I seem to be channeling Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera here). Who cares if you hit the notes or not?  Maybe not always the safest thing to do while driving, though.  So, the shower works, too.  Plus, bathroom acoustics are great and make you sound FABULOUS!!!

Have your girl or guy time.  It’s hard getting a group of friends together these days.  Everyone has their own schedules and obligations to deal with.  But once in a while, you need to make the time.  Go to dinner or have everyone over to watch a movie.


Laugh….And always remember to appreciate the small things.







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