Monday, May 2, 2016

The Brain

This semester I was enrolled in a neuroscience class, and I loved it! I am so amazed by the complexity of this lump of white and gray matter. That lump is your thoughts, personality, memories, everything you are! People don't appreciate what a miracle this organ it is. To celebrate the brain, here are some awesome facts:

  • While awake, your brain generates between 10 and 23 watts of power—or enough energy to power a light bulb.
  •  Neurons develop at the rate of 250,000 neurons per minute during early pregnancy.
  • The average number of thoughts humans are believed to experience each day is 70,000.
  • Information can be processed as slowly as 0.5 meters/sec or as fast as 120 meters/sec (about 268 miles/hr).
  • The human brain makes up 2% of our body weight, making it the largest brain to body size in the animal kingdom.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tulips and Sunflowers

When people need some perspective, there's a reason the saying, "Stop and smell the roses," gets passed along. Think about how wonderful this world is! To me, one of the biggest evidences of a God, especially a God that loves His children, is flowers.

From the time I was young, my dad and I took care of our family gardens. In autumn we planted tulip bulbs, so they could sleep through the winter and poke their sleepy heads out in the spring sunshine. Once the tulips said goodnight again, we'd plant a colorful mixture of petunias, marigolds, and snap dragons. We'd also tend tomato, zucchini, pumpkin, and pepper plants. To say that these are some of my happiest memories is an understatement! 

When I was thirteen I started planting sunflowers on the south side of our home, where the sunshine was abundant and nothing else grew. They went wild. Now every year the sunflowers come up, and many of them top thirteen feet tall! They attract swarms of tiny, colorful finches who munch on their seeds.

Out of all the beautiful flowers, tulips and sunflowers have to be my favorite. One is a spring flower, one is a summer, but both are reminders to slow down and enjoy this life. When I see a field of tulips or sunflowers, I absolutely can say I believe in miracles. 

Better Together

Coming from high school, I can say that I had a somewhat skewed idea of what love is. After a relationship with a complete narcissist that left me in pieces, I came up here to Utah State, not really wanting to fall for anyone. I've always been ambitious in my education, so I was focusing on completing my bachelor's degree and heading out of state for a master's. Marriage was definitely not a priority. My plans changed completely though when I met Joshua Deron Tinsley.

I used to think that love was a dance to please the other person, giving up much of who I am. I used to think that love was critical.
I used to think I was never enough.

Now, there are days I can't help but feel these things still. Some scars don't go away overnight. However, I always have Josh to remind me the way it should be.

Love is being who you are and accepting the other person. Josh has never asked me to be anyone other than Hope. He has never been critical of me and my weaknesses. I am his everything, and I am enough.

We're getting married 20 days from today, and I couldn't be more excited. Things are so good because we are truly better together. *Cue Jack Johnson*

Everything I Learned During Freshman Year

1. Everyone has different priorities. It's important to decide on mine and be firm.
2. Hauling it to the nutrition building in ten minutes every day takes some serious stamina.
3. If people talk about you, whatever. Keep standing up for what you know is right.
4. When you have a bad day, it's okay to stop and get hot chocolate at the library. Take care of yourself.
5. Things don't always work out the way you think they will, but that's part of the excitement of life.
6. Patience. Sometimes your roommates want to build a blanket fort that takes up the entire living room and makes it impossible for you to get to the stairs and kitchen.
7. All people want is empathy sometimes.
8. You need to decide who is genuinely on your side and who is not.
9. Take things one day at a time and don't worry about what you cannot do at the moment.
10. It's all about perspective. Maybe I can't understand where someone is coming from, but I can appreciate their view and cumulative experiences.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Focus Determines Reality

Qui-Gon Jinn, in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, tells the young Anakin Skywalker to "Always remember your focus determines your reality."

George Lucas, you are oh-so-wise.

In other words, what we dwell on daily is going to become our days. It's important to evaluate every once in a while where our focus lies or else we will end up where we had no intention of going. 

I've realized with finals and a lot of busyness going on that I may just be trying to get through one thing to the next. This isn't how it should be though. These finals and classes are vehicles to my career, a career where I'll be able to help people and make a difference in the world. That should be my focus. I've also realized that I've been down on myself about a lot of small things. It's so easy to let negativity creep in, but if I allow myself to feel this way, it will become my reality. And what a scary thought that is!

It's so important to know where we want to go and what we want to be, so that we can align our everyday actions with those goals. Only then do we achieve the reality we dream of. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hey, I like writing.

The reason I started this blog back in good ole' 2013 was mainly because my sister had one (with lots of followers and a pretty good lookin' format). Granted, this blog only has two official followers and looks like a sixteen year old (who didn't know what they were doing) put it together, but I loved writing the few posts I did. And as I've started writing on it again (even though it's for an English class and about silly things), I've remembered how much I love writing. It feels so good to put down my thoughts.

Writing makes a moment, an idea, a feeling permanent. It may not seem like it most of the time but our lives and very beings are dynamic, always changing. I'm not the same person I was five minutes ago and neither are you. I find it incredible that sentences made out of words made out of letters made out of lines can be used to communicate ideas and are capable of preserving people with their personalities and thoughts! 

Smiling at Strangers

Why do humans smile? 

Emotions are one of the most compelling things about humanity. Are we born with them? Are they universal? What are their purpose?

Yeah, there are all those evolutionary answers about how they helped us survive and such. Cool but whatever. Research has shown that even though emotions can be  expressed differently across cultures, we all have them and they are similar, if not the same. Babies are born with the ability to emote, but they may be developed differently through nurturing. 

I believe we have emotions to connect us to others because that is truly what life is all about. When one feels pain, we can sympathize and cry with them. When another feels joy, there is nothing better than sharing that happiness. Emotions make us who we are, and without them we would be no different from the rest of the animal kingdom. 

What about smiling? Ask people what smiling means, and they'll generally answer happiness. Not necessarily though. There are two types of smiles: fake and Duchenne. Fake smiles are... fake--they don't reach the eyes, meaning they don't actually have the emotion of happiness behind them. On the other hand, a Duchenne smile is genuine, reaching the eyes and showing the light we all innately have.

I started something at the beginning of the year where I would walk to and from class smiling at people, counting the smiles I received in return. Some may dismiss me as a weird girl, but I find that sometimes I receive a Duchenne smile in return. As I walk past this person, I hope I made their day just a little bit better. Not only does smiling improve moods, but it reduces stress, lowers heart rate, boosts immune systems, and increase longevity.

So you could probably just call me the smile doctor.