Climbing Table Mountain

  1. I think one of the most memorable times in my life  that taught me a lot about myself was the summer I spent in South Africa. There was a time we all went to Table Mountain in Cape Town. Total, there were probably about ten of us in our group for the climb. It was extremely windy that day, so we had to head out early to get there before it were too dangerous to let people climb. We all embarked on this journey together, but about 20 minutes in, I realized I couldn’t keep up with the group. I wasn’t terribly out of shape, but definitely not as in shape as they were, as they were in SA for sports coaching, so exercise had been in their daily regimen for quite some while. I remember them leaving me. I called out for someone to stay with me, but they told me no and went on their way. I don’t quite remember the exact excuse was, but I remember panicing as I realized I would have to embark on this journey by myself.

    So there I stand; in the middle of South Africa, to climb up a mountain alone. In the beginning I felt somewhat sad and ostrisized. Flashbacks of being the one no one wanted, the one no one wanted to play with or talk to.. all these memories started flooding back. But I kept climbing. A half hour of this, I almost gave up. It was then that my saddness was replaced with anger. Anger that they had left me. Anger that I trusted these people, anger that it had no started raining and the rocks were slippery. Walking down was subsequently more dangerously than walking up.

    You see, when you reach a certain point in table mountain, you are literally above clouds. Suddenly, the scenery gets grey and the wind begins to pick up as you get higher and higher. Eventually, it’s like walking through a mist of rain, wind and terror. I stopped for a moment to record a video.

  2.  By this time, I was determined. All I could think was in metronomic rhythms. Climbing the rocks, I kept saying to myself; almost robotic– trying to concentrate on anything but the situation I was in. I paused every ten minutes to catch my breath. The climb was pretty steep; I had clearly underestimated the hike by wearing jeans. About every fifteen minutes or so as people would pass some professional climbers, others in similar situations; they would encourage me to not give up. They saw that I was struggling. Some stayed with me to catch their breath, but they kept giving me positive messages and told me to stay hopeful. “Don’t give up, you’ve got about forty five minutes left!” … “You’re almost to the top! Just keep climbing!” I suddenly went from angry to determined. I knew my situation, but there was nothing I could do to change the fact that my group left me or that I couldn’t keep up. I had to accept this reality, but I had to change my mentality. I was going to climb this mountain. That was the final goal.

    After what seemed like an eternity of climbing, a woman who seemed nonamature was walking down. “You’re about five minutes from the top,” she said with her warm British accent. She may as well have told me I had won the lottery.

  3. Once I got near the top, it was the most magical, breathtaking, exuberayting experience I have ever felt. My endorphins were so high due to the physical climbing I had been subdued to for the past 2 hours. The clouds were so light, but I was at the light at the end of the tunnel. It was so beautiful. There was a peace and calm as you could hear the trickle from the rain hitting the puddles. The pathway to the top was a bed of rocks and there was a glow near the top.
  4. I believe everything that happened that day happened for a reason. Some reason greater than anything I could even fathom. Or maybe it was all just chance events that I somehow subconsciously made into a lesson for myself. Either way, the experience was life-changing and has had such a huge impact on my life and my current ways of thinking. I learned several things in this one instance that I will carry on throughout my entire life. One, the importance of support. Had it not have been for the people cheering me on and encouraging not to give up, I’m not sure how far I could have made it. I genuinely believed these strangers were there looking out for me because we all had the same goal of climbing up the mountain. The second lesson I learned was perseverance.  Had I have given up when the group first let me, I would have never climbed the mountain, and would not have such an awesome story to share. Even when the task at hand seems like climbing a mountain, if you persevere and take it piece by piece, you will get to the top. And getting to the top was one of the most magical experiences I have ever witnessed. And the third and final message I learned was hope. Before I left for South Africa I was very unsure of where I was going, what my career path should be, who I am as a person; all anxieties of being a young adult. Climbing this mountain gave me confidence in myself. It was tangible proof that I could do something if I put my mind to it. And that is the message I wish to convey to anyone reading this entry. A lot of the “problems” we face may be more psychological than actual physical barriers. If you can somehow get in to your mind and detrermine what are factual barriers and what are nonfactual barriers, I would imagine you’ll be able to conquer the world. Just don’t give up.


Drug Use & Abuse [Week 6]

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil

Before I tell this story, I’ve got to fill you in on a few of my sustainable endeavors…

This summer when I was looking for a new organic shampoo with my sister, she mentioned something she had read online about people ditching shampoo all together. She had no idea that the shower I’d taken that morning would be the last time I washed my hair with shampoo. So what do people wash their hair with? Baking soda and vinegar. The baking soda works as a shampoo, and the vinegar works as a conditioner.

It sounds like a crazy science experiment, right? I thought so too, at first, but then I was intrigued. I spent that night looking up and reading different blogs about people’s experiences with going all natural and forgetting the shampoo. It all seemed so interesting, but I thought it would never work for me. I inherited the ridiculously thin hair from my mom’s side of the family – it would get greasy by the end of the day even when I had showered that morning. But here I am, six months later, shampoo-free!

There are three major reasons for going shampoo-free:

1) It’s better for the environment: shampoo and conditioners are full of harsh chemicals that harm our planet – not to mention ourselves.

2) It’s good for your hair: shampoo is meant to strip your hair of its natural oils. When you wash it every day, your hair overproduces oils to catch up with everything it’s being stripped of. So washing it less, with something that doesn’t get rid of all the oils, helps it find a good, healthy balance.

3) It’s cheap! Shampoo and conditioner can be expensive. Baking soda and vinegar are things that you probably already have, plus it only ends up costing a few cents per wash!

Since your hair overproduces oil, there is a transition phase where hair will be greasy – but only until it adjusts to not having its oil stripped anymore. Thin hair (like mine) takes a lot longer to adjust than thicker hair, but it all just depends and you have to be willing to experiment with different methods and ideas.

One of my friends decided to start trying the no-poo method just two months ago, and she had a much different experience than I did. My thin hair took a long time to adjust – longer than I had read it would take. Mine would get greasy and washing and rinsing it wouldn’t help very much. Her thick, long hair just got really dry and itchy. I had seen some recipes online for deep conditioning treatments, so we decided to try one on her hair.

As you may have guessed, it contained coconut oil! And we put in some tea tree oil just for fun. The website said to melt the oil and coat the hair with it, making sure to spread it around and cover it all. Since my friend has such thick hair, I ended up using a lot of oil…and I mean a lot.

Then we pulled her hair back and let it sit for an hour before she showered to rinse it off. A few hours after her hair had “dried,” it still looked wet. That’s when I knew that I definitely used too much! It was like that for probably a week.

I tried using some of the tricks I’d learned during my transition period when my hair was greasy most of the time – I told her to shower and rinse it for a long time, really well, to try and wash the grease out. We went for a swim in a chlorinated pool to see if those chemicals would do anything to the grease (we’d been planning on going swimming for a while anyway), she washed it with Dr. Bronner’s soap, and I even did a dry baking soda wash to soak up some of the grease.

After a week of trying a bunch of different things, she decided to wash with shampoo ( 😦 ) just once to get rid of all the remaining grease. But it worked, and now she’s back to just baking soda and vinegar! We won’t be using that much coconut oil in anyone’s hair any time soon, even though it was pretty hilarious.

Memory Readings [Week 5]

Adding Your Voice to the Conversation

Mental Illness [Week 3]

The “Cat Video” Obsession

  1. When I think of the proverbial cat lady I think of my aunt Toni. Aunt Toni lives in a large old Victorian home that sits on a small farm and has been passed down in my family for 3 generations. She has lived in that house alone for the past 15 years. I know, for a fact, though that she wouldn’t say she lives alone, because she has six cats. When I was home for Christmas, Aunt Toni found me in her kitchen kneeling down near her bathroom door trying to coax her oldest cat, Smitty (who, as a child, I remember serenely sunning himself on a deck chair while my brother was trying to drown me in the pool), and she said to me, “Cotie, have you seen that cat video on the internet?” I obviously immediately started laughing, which I think I’d have done even before my 3 glasses of wine. “Which one are you referring to?” I asked. She says, “the one of the kitten chasing his tail…. I’ll just send it to you. What’s your email address?” This was the beginning of what has become a close relationship with my grandmother’s sister. This got me wondering, since cat videos attract such wide ranging attention, can this be scientifically useful? Here are some ways scientists and artists are using cat videos for a larger goal.

Read My (L)ink

Allow me to introduce myself

As I share a piece of my mind,

For you, if you wish, to add to your shelf

My goal, for now, is to bring

Information with a twist,

As I publicly pick apart my brain

…now do you get the jist?

As I attempt to make a mark in this new world

To Help show that I was hear 

I will be as honest to you as I can, better yet:

I will do my best to be my most sincere

Eye will show you with all different perspectives

What I see from where I stand

In my shoes you may feel for a minute,

What has originally traveled through my hand

I will wire my connections,

This will be my own web on a site,

For what you all as well know as a blog

I will discuss lots of topics

and yes, lets just face it,

You will probably see the occasional cat and/or dog

Some posts will be more intense 

Others won’t be quite as much

but to add to my goals, at the least,

I hope to provide you some sense

For examples all throughout this poem

I have showed to each of you

What I believe appears obvious,

And is underlined with a hue


But just in case, I will say it right out, for you: 

take your mouse and then click the link

Now be aware, when you follow these steps,

To a new place you will think

At times I will talk about some topics of interests,

of what I will refer to as my educational thrill

Other times I will share some things much more personal,

But with all I will send my Goodwill

So anyway let me go back to stage one

For I think you are better clued in

about what I’ve portrayed as some of my intentions

And also I want to announce to you,


I will additionally be making some mentions

I will start from the beginning so first I will say:

besides this being a class that I am taking…

I’ll confess, I’ve wanted to do this for awhile

but please bear with me

This is all still in the making

Now brace yourself as I reveal to you,

a side of me a little more sappy

I will tell you about a hobby of mine,

that has always been able to make me happy

So listen if you wish,

Even if just with one ear

Another poem that portrays –> why eye speak hear <–

There is nothing like

the written word

It moves me from within

& let’s my voice be heard.


Where my mouth may fail,

 my hand makes up for

Pen to paper,

my voice found behind this magic door.


The whimsical movement,

each word perfectly caressed

The meaning so vibrant,

a playful talent to have,

a writer is blessed.


My piece of mind leads me

 to my peace of mind

Where part of my brain is addressed;

the words are my key to find.


A spark and a jolt,

a fashion of art

These words I let flow freely

 as they Kickstart my Heart


Spanish and Sustainability

  1. Since coming to college at Indiana University in Bloomington over year ago now, I’ve realized that I have two major goals that I always want to be working towards: becoming bilingual and going green.

    Let’s start with my perpetual love for the Spanish language.

    After taking Spanish classes for 8 years,  traveling to Spain for a week and living for a month in Oaxaca, Mexico, I decided to add Spanish as one of my majors and take every opportunity I can to learn more about the language the the culture of those who speak it.
  2. Fluent is defined as “speaking or writing with ease,” but I’ve learned that there’s much more to it than just that. After 8 years of classes, yes, I would say I’m advanced, but if you’re one of those people who wants to ask if I’m fluent – well, then I never really know how to answer. I’ll probably never have the same instincts as a native speaker, and there are some sets of vocabulary that I’ll maybe never need to know (unless I start a family or become a nanny in a latin american country, will I ever need to know the word for baby bottle?) But anyway, my goal is to get as close to fluent as possible.

    My other hope to “go green” was possibly brought on (definitely added to) by the culture here at IU.
  3. Obviously, there’s a lot of focus on sustainability here, so that’s how I really got interested in it. My family has always recycled and spent time outdoors, but never as much as I do now. When I came to college, I started doing a lot more camping and backpacking. I learned about Leave No Trace on a few of the trips I went on, and something about it just really stuck with me. I wanted to use as many of the principles that I could in every day life.
  4. I’ve learned a lot of different ways to work towards these goals in my every day college life, and that’s what I want to share with you! More to come soon.

Decision-Making + Food