A big, big move

As many of you may know, I recently moved to Montana. A small town of just over 4,000 people and a very popular summer vacation spot – this town welcomed a sunflower-lovin’ Kansas girl into it’s very limited housing market back in January. To say that moving here was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my 22 years of life would sound dramatic, but it’d be absolutely true.

I just graduated college in May of 2017. Equipped with a brand new Bachelor’s degree and a 4-year-old desire to get out of Missouri, I couldn’t wait to move out west and do amazing things. I had no idea what things, but my house-lion Rori and I were certainly getting out of the Midwest ASAP…

So that summer I spent my time road-tripping with some of my best friends, job searching, working and showing horses with my favorite barn of all time, job searching, making up for lost time with my little sisters, job searching, traveling across the Atlantic, and more job searching. That summer was a blast, but I was still in Kansas and I was still without a job. I had interviewed for some amazing positions and got shut down. I felt totally, completely, and utterly unqualified for everything. It was heartbreaking and incredibly discouraging. I was getting really comfortable with the idea of living in the basement of my parents’ house forever. Until I finally broke through the post-grad brick wall with a 7-week internship that changed me and my outlook on life.

Flash-forward 7 weeks and now I suddenly love birds and have a clear direction I want to go in – along with some real-world experience to back it up. I also “discover” the whole beautiful state of Montana, and an incredible sounding AmeriCorps position that will take me right into the mountains. I’ve never wanted anything more than I want this job. While waiting to hear back from this dream job, I get offered a job working for the barn I’ve been riding with for years, and that is the only thing in the universe that could make me rethink everything in life – and it does. All summer I was struggling to find something or someone that wanted to give me a chance, and nothing. But now, I have two perfect opportunities. What do I do??

Well, I get the Montana job. The barn says I can work there temporarily, until I leave for Montana. So that’s exactly what I do. Flash-forward (again) a couple of months, and it’s so, so hard to leave in January, but I have to try it all – to figure out what I should really be doing. That’s what your 20s are for, right? Leaving your friends and family and horses and everything you know behind, just to go live amongst some big rocks and gigantic bears?

Of course it is. My parents rent a minivan and we take a three-day road trip to move me into my new apartment in my new state. But, leaving my sisters behind was 50 times harder than when I went to college. I just got them back after 4 years, how can I leave them again? And this time I’m so much further than a 2 hour drive away… what am I doing? It’s overwhelming, and for the first few hours of the trip I cry and question every decision I am making. I just want them with me forever. But I have to follow this dream of mine, and I will be with them again soon.

And finally, after three days of driving, mishaps, laughing, and crying, I’ve made it. My little blue apartment stands there, staring at me, under 3 feet of snow. I move all my things inside. Our moving van gets stuck in the snow and my dad kicks it and my mom gets upset and I cry a little bit, but then I’m the one to get it out. I go to the post office to change my address, and the lady behind the counter yells at me and I cry a little bit, but then I leave and figure it out myself. We go to brunch one day and it seems like I will never be able to get wifi in my apartment, and for some reason this triggers a full blown panic attack, but I get through it. And then, after all of this, I have to drive my parents to the airport and watch them leave me. I’m here alone. It’s really happening. This is it.

I simultaneously feel like a pathetic child and a full-blown adult. “Yeah, I may have cried, like, 17 times in the past week, but I just did one of the bravest things a person can do,” I tell myself. I don’t really believe it at first, but as the days go by I start to feel more confident and more proud of what I’ve done. I start my job, I make friends, I take risks, and I learn so many new things.

Not all of the risks I’ve taken have payed off, but I’ve learned so much about my resilience, my passion, my weaknesses, who I am and what I’m capable of. This move to Montana was the scariest thing I’ve ever gone through, but every tear, every doubt, every bad moment was 100% worth it.

The truth is, I’d love to stay here forever, and maybe I will. But if I do move on, maybe somewhere closer to my family, this place will always have a piece of me. This was the first place to show me what I’m really made of, and what tremendously spectacular things can come from having faith in myself and just taking the leap.

 

Bees

As you read this, imagine a bee. Where is it? What is it doing? Is it big or small? Are you scared? Annoyed? What do you do about it?

When most people imagine a bee, myself included, they imagine a honeybee or bumblebee. These two types of bees have become the face of them all – even though they are only 2 of around 20,000 species in the world.

If you don’t know a lot about these tiny creatures, I want to introduce them to you in a new light.

The Common Honeybee
This beautiful bee is known for making honey, but it is also an incredibly valuable source of pollination for crops all over the world. Honeybees are raised almost like livestock – to produce honey, beeswax, and pollinate our growing food. These bees are well known for their stinging capabilities, but I want to share some lovable facts about them, too:

  1. All honeybees that gather pollen and make honey (and have stingers) are female.
  2. Honeybees dance to communicate with each other.
  3. When honeybees fly, they frequently bump into things and fly in weird patterns because they aren’t that great at steering.
  4. A common honeybee will almost never sting unless she feels the hive in threatened, she is stuck or trapped (in your hair, for instance), or you jerk around or swat at her.
  5. Honeybees frequently get wet and sometimes drown when trying to gather water, but if you rescue a wet honeybee she will sit on your hand until she’s dry and ready to fly away!

If these facts didn’t sell you on how adorable these little flying fuzzballs are, I don’t know what will.

 

The Common Bumblebee
These flying fuzzballs are bigger than the previous flying fuzzballs, and while they are still key pollinators, they do not make honey. (Ok, you probably knew all of that already…) But do you know why bumble bees bumble?

Their tiny wings beat around 130 times per second. Per SECOND. This, along with their large bodies, causes flowers to vibrate and release pollen. This whole process is called buzz pollination, and it’s wildly effective. Bumblebees are less known for stinging and more known for size, but here are some more tidbits of information you’ll want to know:

  1. Bumblebees fly by beating their wings forwards and backwards, not up and down.
  2. Colonies of bumblebees usually contain 50 to 500 individuals, and they are ruled by a queen.
  3. Right before winter, all the bees will die except for the queen, who hibernates until she can start a new colony in the spring.
  4. Bumblebees do not die when they sting, unlike honeybees.
  5. Some bumblebees have been shown to have a favorite color of flower.

I’m willing to bet that you didn’t know at least one of those facts… unless you’re a bee expert, in which case, teach me all you know!

Most of us have known about these two species since we could talk, but there are so many more. Native bees are widely unknown by the average Joe, but they take on such important roles in the environment. If you’re interested in bees, pollinators, farming, or ecology I highly recommend you look into native species in your area.

Don’t worry, I’ll make a blog post for them someday, too.

 

Peace and Love,

Juliana

Jellyfish

Ah, jellyfish. Fish made of jelly that aren’t really “fish” at all.

I think most people can appreciate the unique beauty of jellyfish on TV or from behind glass, but not many people seek to find themselves inside a bloom any time soon. I can say from personal experience that a bloom of jellyfish can be an incredible, yet painful, situation to find yourself in.

But some people (cough-my roommate-cough) may think they aren’t important and wonder why this seemingly useless species still exists. That’s alright! Hopefully this article will give you some new and valuable insight.

So here’s a few ways these jelly creatures contribute to their marine society:

  1. They are incredibly important food. It was previously thought that when jellyfish died, they sank to form “jelly-lakes” and slowly degrade, but scientists have since found evidence to show otherwise! Researchers at the University of Hawai’i have found that when jellyfish die and fall to the ocean floor, (referred to as a “jellyfish fall” or “jelly-fall”) they are almost immediately consumed by many different species of ocean floor scavengers. Gelatinous material is extremely important to deep sea food webs, thanks jellyfish!
  2. They provide homes for baby fish! Similarly to how sea anemones hide clownfish, the tentacles of jellyfish protect young fish of poison-immune species until they are large enough to fend for themselves. So essentially jellyfish are kind of like the sweet old nurturing nannies of the ocean.
  3. They provide underwater fertilizer. Jellyfish don’t have a separate hole to “do their business” like most animals do – one hole takes food in, and the same hole expels waste out. It might seem nasty, but it’s actually a pretty smart use of limited resources. That waste becomes fertilizer for ocean plants, which boosts the ecosystem by providing countless animals with food.
  4. They can help slow down climate change! Through carbon sequestration – or trapping carbon-based greenhouse gases – jellyfish can protect the ozone layer of our atmosphere and slow the process of the greenhouse effect. And it isn’t only jellyfish that contribute to carbon sequestration, most marine life (especially marine plants) have a powerful role in the makeup of the atmosphere. Kind of weird to think about, huh? As a species, their health affects our health… I think that is a huge reason to be thankful for jellyfish this thanksgiving!

The ocean can be a scary and mysterious place to most people. It’s deep, dark, and full of strange creatures – many of them have never been seen. You don’t have to explore the deep sea to be an advocate for all the mysterious animals it contains… but you can if you want to! It’s up to you. The ocean lies in your hands, just don’t pull a Marlin/Dory move and swim into a bloom while you’re down there!

 

Peace and love,

Juliana

 

 

Sources:

Act for Libraries

University of Hawai’i

Live Science

Scientific Literature (great for doing research/writing papers!)

 

10 Easy Ways You Can Positively Impact the Environment

Everyone wants to be a positive influence on the environment. Whether it’s an educated, conscious decision or just a subconscious evolutionary need depends on the person, but alas, it’s a part of us all.

Even so, changing your lifestyle can be incredibly difficult, and the desire to be environmentally friendly is often not enough motivation to become a vegan minimalist who only eats homegrown food. I get that. I do my best, but that strict lifestyle just doesn’t call to me, or to most people. If you are a vegan minimalist who grows your own food, I applaud and admire you – I would love to taste some of the meals you make!

So even though most of us aren’t ready to flip our entire world upside-down, there are some simple steps we can all take towards lowering our negative impact.

  1. Meatless Mondays. Consuming meat (including seafood) is incredibly harmful to the environment. The meat/fish industry contributes heavily to land and water pollution and uses lots of energy. Now, I’m not saying you have to go veg – I’ve considered myself a vegetarian for over a year, but I’ve had weak moments. Try going meatless once a week, and gradually increasing your meat consciousness. A little bit goes a long way!
  2. Turn off the lights! You’ve heard this a lot – probably from your mother and/or roommates, but they’re right! It really has an impact on energy and your wallet. I like to challenge myself to lower my energy bill just a little bit each month. It’s actually pretty fun, and saving money is always a great prize!
  3. Don’t crank the thermostat. Heating and cooling your home requires massive amounts of energy. When you leave for longer than a few hours, consider lowering the temperature (in winter, raise it in summer) a couple of degrees to save energy while you are gone – this ensures the house will heat back up quickly when you return, and energy is saved! Don’t change it too drastically, though, otherwise the energy expended to heat (or cool) the house again will cancel out the energy you already saved.
  4. Start walking. Or biking! Or skateboarding. You get the idea. This is a great way to reduce your pollution and get in better shape! We all want to be in better shape, right? That’s two motivators… wonderful!
  5. Pick up trash when you see it. It’s easy to see trash and be disgusted by it and the person who left it there, but most of the time we don’t go out of our way to pick it up. You’ll become a great samaritan and environmentalist if you pick it up, and it’s usually very easy to do.
  6. Hang dry your clothes. And wash your clothes in cold water! Unless your clothes are dripping with sweat or animal urine (I’m a cat mom, things happen), then washing with cold water won’t make any difference. Doing both will save enormous amounts of energy and money, and it barely requires a change in your routine.
  7. Go to the library. If you are a big reader, you probably own books. Consider keeping you absolute favorites and donating the rest to a library, and then start borrowing your books! I’m not a fan of e-readers, but I don’t want to be wasting paper either, so I try to borrow as often as I can. Libraries are usually great places to get work done or find some peace and quiet as well!
  8. No bottled water. Start to bring a resuable bottle everywhere you might want water. I challenged myself to not use a plastic water bottle for the entirety of 2017 – it ended up being an unrealistic goal, but it has certainly reduced my usage. Having a reuable water bottle could ultimately increase the amount of water you drink as well. Yay for getting healthy while we save the planet!
  9. Know your carbon footprint. It’s important to understand just how much impact you have on the earth, and what your biggest areas of impact are. Calculate your carbon footprint by using this online calculator. While it isn’t completely accurate, it provides a great representation and it can also be a great teaching tool. Speaking of teaching…
  10. Teach the world. Teach your kids, your siblings, your parents, your friends, etc. Teach people about how every day life impacts our future. Teach people that we, as a species, are doing some pretty nasty things to the environment right now. But most importantly, teach people that there is time to change, there is hope, and that the end of the world is not here. We’ve got to be positive if we want to get anywhere.

There are so many other things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and to actively make a difference in the world. You don’t have to reinvent your life, and you don’t have to do it all – if you’re doing what you can, you’re doing enough.

Peace and love,

Juliana

Sources I used/sources you can use:

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty

Environmental Protection Agency

What is the Importance Series?

That’s a very good question.

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine said to me “jellyfish aren’t even important, all they do is sting and float around” …or something along those lines. The point is, I was shocked to hear this, and I proceeded to write a short (somewhat comical) essay on why jellyfish are, in fact, extremely important to the wellbeing of the earth. My dear friend now loves jellyfish and would never again dare say that a living creature doesn’t matter (around me, at least)!

So, this series is inspired by that fun college memory. And naturally, I decided that jellyfish should be the very first species in this saga. Unfortunately I do not still have that original short essay, but I’ve done my best to rewrite it as authentically as I did when I was 18.

Peace and love, 

Juliana

Oh, and here’s a fun poll!