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My goal for this winter was to get out and enjoy some of the winter fun Minnesota has to offer, and I think I just may have accomplished it! So far I’ve gone to more pond hockey games than I could have ever dreamed of, went cross country skiing and only fell three times, did snow-shoeing in Eagle River, WI, watched a dog sled race on a frozen lake, and this weekend I just returned from a trip to see the Ice Caves in Bayfield, WI! All of it has been pretty remarkable, and served to help me survive the Fourth Worst Winter in Minnesota. Okay, that link shows that they decided we had more cold days than normal, and I’m making the jump from more cold days = worst, but you all get my drift.

When I first moved out here I knew I wanted to do everything that Midwestern Life would have to offer me. Being from the East Coast means lots of cities, less solitude, and a whole lot of attitude. After moving, I quickly found myself loving an environment of regular park goers, friendly faces, and an overall more relaxed pace. It helps to remind you what types of things are actually important in life, which is so easy to lose sight of.

One of the things I constantly see in graduate school is students dismissing their mental and physical health in the name of good grades. The closer I get to graduation and the more I speak to potential employers, the less I ever hear anyone mention grades. Ever. The more and more I try to communicate that to my peers, the less people seem to hear. Throughout school I was able to get really involved in student groups, meet tons of professionals and young people interested in furthering the social good, and hear some incredible talks. Honestly I wouldn’t give up a single second of that for a higher grade, and I can’t think of a time where I was sitting at a conference that I thought “Man, I could get way more out of doing all of my readings this week.” This is all certainly not to say that we should just throw all of our responsibilities into the wind and live as we want – there are definitely things you have to take care of and you can learn some incredibly valuable insights while doing them. However, you have to be able to keep yourself on your game, do things that interest and intrigue you, and constantly explore. If you don’t, you become so wrapped up in tasks that you forget about learning (and now that I’m saddled with a large chunk of college debt and finally exiting after six years, I can say that learning is pretty cool).

My school recently made a major initiative to focus on student mental health due to a tragedy in the beginning of the year. It has helped us adjust the frame in which we see students and our interaction with education, which has unfortunately created a culture of acceptance around mental health issues (really great article to learn more). It can really be a struggle, but I find that the more I become bogged down in my responsibilities, the more I have to lift my head out of my text books and remind myself of the bigger picture. I certainly always dedicate myself to the end-product and try my best, but I try and apply that same mentality to my general health and ability to learn outside the classroom

Here’s some fun links to things I like (I tried to come up with a better title… but that’s basically what they all have in common!)

Summer Bucket List

A Guide to Paleo Foods (so I’m not actually Paleo because I thoroughly believe in the power of cheese, but I’ve been trying to guide my diet by this list and have felt myself feeling more energetic, clean, and happy).

The Happiness Effect 

And last but certainly far from least, here’s some pictures of Dogs Underwater.

Oh, and here’s some pictures from the Ice Caves this weekend – 

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