Posted in Backwards is Better, Free Time Fun

Spring has Sprung: Fun Events in Chicago

I’m hesitant to say it since it wouldn’t be the first time it’s snowed in April, but it seems that Spring has finally hit Chicago. It is time to let your fingers and toes thaw and let your eyes adjust to the sun. You can feel the anticipation in the air and there’s a question buzzing around everyone’s brain: what’s happening? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

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I mentioned in my first post that I am a rookie mud wrestler with the Chicago Mud Queens and our season is starting! You just missed us guest wrestling at the Chicago Outfit’s Spaghetti Wrestling event, but we have a match 5-19 @ Baderbrau that you should be at. If you’d rather participate instead of spectating and are a woman in Chicago hit me up and I’ll tell you more about it. Photo of Pikachupacabra kicking my ass provided by the phenomenal Cormac Kehoe.

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Are you a gardener? Me neither! It is hard in this urban setting where most of us are in complexes to feel connected with the ground we stand on, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get our hands dirty when we want to. I recently discovered Gingko Organic Gardens and cannot say enough great things about them. You can sign up for their volunteer events through Chicago Cares, or just show up any Saturday after 9:30AM. This garden is entirely volunteer-run and anything harvested is donated to local food banks the same day. The land itself was purchased the vacant lot from the city for a $1 in the 90s under a land trust where as long as it remains a volunteer garden it cannot be built on. They are friendly, it is fun, and you can feel good about giving back while you soak up your time in the sun. (Photo pulled from their Facebook page)

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I mentioned the Chicago Outfit earlier, ever checked out roller derby? Why not?! These women are fast and fucking fierce. I’m planning on going to the show on June 17th, maybe I’ll see you there. (Photo pulled from their Facebook page)

There are endless events going on in Chicago, but these are a few that are ongoing and that I can verify are 100% fucking awesome. Expect more posts about cool shit like this, and posts when I try new stuff that sucks major ass.

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Posted in Backwards is Better, Culinary Quests

Quick, Easy, Bomb Lemon-Garlic Shrimp

I am anxiously excited whenever I try a new recipe. I hope for it to be delicious, but I have been fooled far too many times by failed Pinterest attempts and continually worry that the whole process is a waste of time and money.

However, occasionally there are recipes like this one that end up in regular rotation. Food Network’s Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits is a recipe that is worth it. There are only 9 ingredients and half of them are probably already in your spice cabinet or fridge. I included the cayenne pepper and followed the recipe directly in this first attempt. In my next attempt, I truly don’t think there is anything I would add or remove, it was that good!

If I do end up cooking dinner, it isn’t until 8 or 9 in the evening and I am not motivated to spend an hour peeling, chopping, mixing, and cooking ingredients. When a recipe says it takes 30 minutes total to prep and cook, I roll my eyes and call bullshit, but this time I was pleasantly surprised. I stood at the stove looking at the fully prepared recipe searching for an ingredient or steps missed. There were none. In less than an hour, I had prepped, cooked, eaten and cleaned up after a full meal that was mouth watering.

If you are a novice lazy cook who lives a busy life keep an eye out for more recipes. In addition to triumphs like this one, I’ll be posting about the failures so you won’t waste your time too.

 

Posted in Backwards is Better, Life Lessons

Bouncing Back From the Blues

It happens. You were super busy, feeling confident and capable of it all. And then you hit a wall. Not a literal wall, but something inside holds you back. That’s what happened to me these past few months. Things were falling into place, but then I shifted. Everything felt wrong and scary. I had trouble looking at myself in the mirror because I couldn’t be honest about my state of mind. It was a mixture of my own issues and waves of grief. Existence was a struggle.

It’s easy to feel ashamed and like you need to hide what you’re going through, but that is fucked up. Bottling things up only fuels the fire of negative introspection. Check out the Association for Psychological Science’s article Stigma as a Barrier to Mental Health Care and read about the impact mental health stigma has.

Aside from seeking professional help (which I did), there is little you can do to fix this. While you are waiting it out be kind to yourself, and try being honest with others.If someone asks how you are don’t mumble the typical retort of “fine.” Own that you are going through some shit. Take the support (this is as much for me as the reader).

An organization focusing on mental health education and suicide prevention through self-expression is Hope for the Day. I learned about them at their booth at Riot Fest years ago and I’ve found a lot of support there.

A new resource of self-support I’ve found is meditation. I started using Headspace. It’s an easy app you can download on your phone and within the 10-minute sessions, I feel like I’m getting to know myself in a new way. Sometimes there is a huge mind/body disconnect for me and I’ve found this helps ground me. Fair warning, after the trial there is a charge.

Healing is hard. There is no magical cure. This will likely happen again, either unexpectedly or with a bit of warning on the way down. I’ll end the same way a New York Times article on Julien Baker does, with a quote from her, “I wouldn’t say it gets better. We just get better at dealing with it.”

If you find yourself in a dangerous state of mind please reach out. If not to your doctor, a friend or family member, if not them then call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Posted in Backwards is Better, Life Lessons

Why Backwards IS Better

Failure for me was once a dead end. It meant abandoning any project and shrinking in fear. I went from being set to graduate high school as a Junior to dropping out. It was a dark time and I was lost without hope for my future… for years.

I woke up one morning in my early twenties and realized that I needed more if I wanted to stay. There was no escaping fear and there really never is for anyone, though sometimes it can be conquered. I found an amazing GED program where I reconnected with writing and began building confidence.

That was six years ago. I’m now a senior at Northeastern Illinois University and working as a writer, something that was previously beyond imagination. I have had the pleasure of mud wrestling with the Chicago MudQueens the past year few years. I attend open mic nights and occasionally read my own work or collaborate with friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have lost most of my MudQueens matches thus far and when I read or perform it’s normally hurriedly without looking at the audience, but I have begun building a network of incredibly talented and inspiring individuals… one fuck-up at a time.

The goal here is to reflect on unfortunate events, choices, creations, laugh and celebrate the eventual success that tenacity can lead to.

Don’t just take my word for it, there is a lot of information out there and failure is pretty sexy lately. Christopher Bergland wrote a great article for Psychology Today that goes over recently published failure studies: Self-Compassion, Growth Mindset, and the Benefits of Failure

I found out that the same day I uploaded this Anna Akana, a creator I follow on YouTube who is a huge inspiration of mine, uploaded a video that relates directly to this blog: How To Deal With Failure (And The Fear Of It).

If you still want more, check out this interesting article from Stanford that views failure as a pivotal part to study in business: What We’re Missing When We Study Success.