My list of fears is small in scale, but significant in content. My first and true fear, the fear at the top of my list, is time.

Time moving too fast, time moving too slow, not having enough time, and having far too much. Regardless of which way time moves or how quickly, one thing is inevitable; time is always running out.

Now you can make the argument that time in manmade and in truth does not really exist. However, that fact does not take away the sense of time. It’s the feeling we get when time is running out that we truly fear.

So how does one break through the barrier that is time and start seeing life for what it really is: an endless amount of opportunities that we have plenty of “time” for.

But that time is wasted if you’re not doing anything with it. The idea of time is useless unless something becomes of it. The number one waster of time is waiting. 

I can’t help but wonder how much time we spend waiting as opposed to how much time we spend actually making something happen.

How often have you sat around waiting for that text or phone call? Or for someone to show up? How often have you wasted time waiting on someone else when all you really need is yourself to do something extraordinary. If you have to wait for someone in order to make time for them then realize that you are moving at a faster pace, and nothing and no one has the right to slow you down.

There’s a Promise

Journal entry from 2013

I woke up that morning and everything seemed so clear. It was like the answer to all of my penetrating questions was served up gourmet style on a silver platter and placed neatly in my head.

College was starting in less than a week and I realized that I had been desperately trying to hold on to something that will inevitably have to be let go—my high school life, and the friends that had become my world. I had to leave the comfort that had become my life.

But that situation made me think, what would happen if I’m able to actually let go and move on? Kind of a scary thought isn’t it? Because moving on opened the door to so many possibilities that I wasn’t sure I was ready for at the time.

After the day I had this revelation, I started to prepare myself to walk through the open door leading the way to a new chapter of my life.

When I got to college, I convinced myself that no guy could possibly be mature or stimulating enough to hold my attention. High school taught me that, since every man who ever showed interest I eventually shot down because eventually they were no longer able to keep me intrigued—this is what lead to me never having a boyfriend. Ever.

During freshman week, every guy that made a move on me reinforced that belief. That is, until I met Sam.

I thought I had men figured out by the time I left high school and I was starting to truly believe that falling in love just wasn’t in the cards for me. I still laugh at myself and my morbid thought of what I was incapable of.

It was Freshman Week and I had met plenty of guys who very openly expressed their interest; but I wasn’t having any of it, every single guy was pushy and frankly, they were over-doing it. What happened to just being you and hoping for the connection? No, these guys were all wearing disguises and saying everything they felt they should say. But I’ve been through those guys before and I can see straight through their facades and into their cold eyes screaming that they only want one thing. And each guy I came across just reminded me why I never had, or even wanted, a boyfriend.

I was standing with my friend, Emily, while she chatted it up with a group of guys. I remained silent and thought to myself how sad it was that I’ve only been in college for three days and I’m already sick of the men.

As I sighed and looked the other way, that’s when I saw him; a tall, muscular, blonde-haired, blued-eyed man. That’s what got me; the fact that he was the first male I’ve seen that made me think ‘now there’s a man.’ It took me a few seconds to realize that he was on crutches with a big black boot on his left leg.

Without acknowledging any of his other friends we were standing with, he looked straight at me and said, “Hi, I’m Sam.” Little did I know, Sam would become that love that I had thought to be impossible; he would become everything.

His was the typical introduction; one I’ve heard from countless other people. But something about him intrigued me. I honestly cannot remember what we talked about; all I know is we looked around and everyone else had gone. Then we realized we had been standing there talking for about 45 minutes.

“Who is this?” is all I could ask myself when I walked away. And it’s all I continued to ask myself until I saw him next.

Sam and I hung out sporadically over the next several months. He took me to dinner, we saw movies…anything that resembles a typical date, that’s what we did; and I loved every minute of it.

Six months later, after a long courtship and a “you need to make your move, boy,” Sam finally developed enough courage to kiss me for the first time. And that’s what we did all night; just kissed. Sam is a gentleman in that way. He never disrespected me.

Two years later, Sam and I are still together and I have never been in a happier place than I am right now—although, I seem to say the same thing everyday. But I’ve learned that’s what love is; I didn’t “fall” in love because I never really stopped falling. I fall more in love every single day; with Sam, with my life, with my friends, with the thought of my future…I fall in love with everything I have overlooked since before him.

Don’t get me wrong; we have had our ups and downs—plenty of them. I’ve despised him one moment, then the next I am crying because I know I cannot picture myself without that man. Sometimes I think that we can never get past an argument, then the next moment he’s holding me and making everything better. But most of the time I’m smiling like a love-struck fool because I am in a constant state of unwavering bliss.

Throughout our relationship Sam has shown me that not every aspect of our love is going to be like a fairytale—but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a happily ever after. After all, he is my imperfectly perfect Prince Charming.

Sam is the reason I have opened myself up to the possibility of love, and he is the reason I have let love consume me.

I’ve learned that love doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, most the time it’s just the opposite. Never have I heard a story of love that was perfect from start to finish. But in a way, isn’t that what makes love flawless? The fact that when love is real it can make it through anything.

I know this all sounds a bit cliché but I’m finally starting to get it. It doesn’t have to be flawless…the timing can be all wrong…every little thing about the other person can get on your nerves…it can happen when you least expect it and make you think that something must be wrong, even when everything is right…they can drive you crazy…they can make you cry, laugh, smile, sing… they can make you the happiest person in the world then in a split second make it all come crumbling down. Despite all the imperfections, miserable moments, and the times when you feel like dancing, you’ll realize that none of that matters. In the end, love is love; and when it’s real, you never stop falling.

two years later…

It’s truly amazing how people change. It’s also amazing how people tend to stay the same. However, it’s not so amazing when one person is growing while the other remains rooted. And that’s what happened with Sam and I. And that’s why we broke up. That’s also why I am perfectly okay with it.

Our breakup happened nearly a year ago, but recently I’ve been reflecting on it and how happy I’ve become without him. What I felt for him was not real love. There is no way it could have been. I stand by what I said above–he taught me that I was capable of loving; but I now know that I am capable of a love so much deeper. A love full of fire and passion; intellect and understanding. A love that doesn’t hold back and endlessly motivates. A love that doesn’t require you to compromise your dreams; but rather a love that helps make those dreams a reality.

To anyone who is having a rough time going through a breakup, I have one thing to say: whatever you’re facing, there is promise for the ones who just hold on. There is something better.


photo credit- thoughtcatalog.com

You Can Say Anything

In this life, we are bound to be set free. So if you could say anything, what would it be?

What I want to say and what I want  to feel are things that I have longed for, but have never allowed myself to have.

How do you know when to let go; of your fears, your reservations, your doubts…more importantly, how do you know when to let go of your excuses.

For the majority of my life I have kept my heart guarded. I convinced myself that it has never been the “right time” for love. And I used meaningless logic to justify that decision. As a result, I somehow convinced myself that love isn’t needed to be happy; because with love comes compromise.

But what is life without love? I refuse to become a person afraid of love with a false sense of happiness alone in a room surrounded by nothing but my achievements.

What a shame it would be not to love.

I don’t need to be saved, never have been. But maybe it’s okay to allow myself to be saved. I am the hero of my story. But maybe in my story it’s possible for the hero and the white knight to live happily ever after, saving one another equally.



Adolescence and All it’s Glory

We all have a story to tell. But sometimes we find ourselves rushing to the end trying to find answers to all the penetrating and lingering questions. Too many times, it seems we’re crippled by a one-track mind; a mind that is so focused on where we’re going that we don’t notice where we are. And where am I? I’m in that space between adolescence and adulthood–and it’s wonderful.

Instead of constantly looking in front of me, I’m looking around me. I’m taking in all my surroundings; everything that makes me smile, every nuisance that makes me cringe, every incidence that puts me down, the little things that mean everything, the music that makes me feel and the people that inspire me. I’m taking the time to notice what makes me me. More importantly, I’m noticing what, and who, makes me a better version of myself.

It’s moments like these, when I have complete and total clarity, that I realize how truly blessed I am to be me. I am at the point in my life when I have endless opportunities to screw up and make mistakes, redeem myself, then screw up again. And I have the luxury to say to myself that every mistake is just another lesson; another facet that makes me who I am–another aspect of who I am becoming. That’s why every mistake I make, every tear that falls from my eyes, every moment that begins with heartache…those moments will end with my head held high and a smile on my face. Because in that moment, I’ll know that I’m not done yet, and that I have and an endless amount of chances.

The problem is that not everyone realizes this incredible opportunity. Instead, some people tend to dwell on the negatives and see every mistake as a set-back. And that fact is heartbreaking. I understand that it can be tremendously difficult to find the good in every bad situation, but does that mean one should immediately dismiss the possibility of a happy outcome? Choosing to be happy is half the battle; but choosing to be dejected is no battle at all, because that choice is the easy one. However, the battle that follows is a one-way path to self-destruction.

My advice? Take the cliche route and wake up every morning and put a smile on your face and tell yourself it’s going to be a good day; laugh at each and every mishap throughout your day; smile at everyone you see and remember that feeling you get when someone smiles back, let it consume you; choose to believe that there are people out there who genuinely care, and choose to pity those who don’t–and instead of wishing ill-will on those individuals, pray that someone or something comes along to change them. Stop focusing on the friends you’ve lost and the people who aren’t there for you, and find the few people who never left–those are the people you should be thinking about. If something is bothering you, think about whether or not that irritating nuisance will effect your life in the long-wrong. More often than not, the answer will be no. So why waste your thoughts on it now? There are more important things in life.

Don’t miss this opportunity to live a life of fire and passion…a life of excitement and wonder…a life of mistakes and redemptions.

This life is beautiful, and we’re the lucky ones.

Feature photo credit www.myperfectline.com


I am the Hero of this Story

With only a year left until graduation, I have noticed that my life is beginning to change–rapidly and irrevocably. What used to be a priority in my life is no longer on my radar, what used to mean the world to me is no longer in my universe, and the little things that I thought I could “just worry about later” are now my main focus.

My priorities and my obligations have done a complete one-eighty, all beginning with a life-altering decision I made this past summer; I let go of someone who was everything to me. But with that release, I found myself. I realized that I was allowing myself to be held back because I was so afraid to accept that I had changed, and what I had needed a couple years ago is not what I need anymore. I was only allowing myself to be half of the woman that I knew I could be.

The decision to let that person go was one of the toughest I have ever made, and it took me a while to accept. But now, myself and my future are my first priority. I will never again allow something I want to be put on the back-burner because I decided to put someone else’s happiness before my own.

To anyone coming out of a relationship, here’s my advice to you: now is the time to be selfish. And I don’t mean be egotistical, I mean be self-serving. Don’t depend on someone else’s approval and stop looking for someone to save you. What it all really comes down to is you. You have to be able to be on your own and depend on yourself. Stop looking for that knight in shining armor and be your own hero. When you’re able to do that, nothing and no one can stop you from becoming the person you have always dreamed of being.

You want to apply for that job in Australia? Do it. Don’t let anything, or anyone, stop you.

You were offered your dream career across the country? Go. Stop worrying about what you may be leaving behind and start focusing on everything you are gaining.

Stop being so damned determined to keep your life in perfect order, and more importantly, stop trying to force a place in your life for people who do not fit there anymore. When you are at a place in your life that you are undeniably happy with, the right people will be there with you. But this goes both ways; don’t allow someone else to hold you back, and don’t allow yourself to hold someone else back. If they need to let you go, then let them. I promise you, someone else will find their way into that spot in your life.

It’s okay to grow and it’s okay to change. Stop fearing for the future and be selfish. Be selfish with your time, with your money and with your thoughts. And allow others to do the same.

I am the hero of my story, and you are the hero of your own.


feature photo credit: beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com


New Mom, New Dream, Different Story.

Jessica Merkt and her son, Landon.
Jessica Merkt and her son, Landon.

As the end of the school year approaches, soon-to-be graduates begin to take their last steps as college undergraduates.

Throughout the year, a number of students in the class of 2014 stood out more than all the others; Jessica Merkt is among that population of outstanding students.

In 2011, Merkt graduated from Fort Zumwalt South in the top 25 of her class with a 4.4 GPA. She was in the student council and a member of the National Honors Society.

Merkt said her passion for education only increased as she entered college, despite the event that changed her life, and plans, forever.

“When I was halfway through my junior year, I found out that I was pregnant and would be due in October of my senior year of high school,” Merkt said.

“Like any other soon-to-be teenage mother, I was terrified and had no idea what to do. When I first found out I was pregnant, I feared that I wouldn’t be able to attend college and I would have to settle for a minimum wage job for the rest of my life, Merkt said.

“I also worried that I would not be a good mother because I was so young and had little experience with kids other than babysitting my neighbors. My saving grace was my amazing and supportive family and friends.”

Regardless of the stereotype that is placed on teen mothers, Merkt said she remained focused and determined to make her situation the best experience possible. With the help and support of the people around her, Merkt said she did just that.

After having her son, Landon, Merkt said she made the decision to attend Lindenwood University instead of Mizzou, since Lindenwood is only 15minutes from her home.

“While I am at school, Landon attends a daycare called HOPE Ministries, which offers low cost daycare to teen mothers that are choosing to pursue their education,” Merkt said. “HOPE has been a godsend and one of the main reasons that I am able to attend school.”

While Landon is at daycare, Merkt said she focuses on keeping her 4.0 GPA and plan of graduating college in three years. However, Merkt said this lifestyle demands a strict routine.

“Graduating in three years has been tough,” Merkt said.

“There have been a lot of all nighters and sleep deprivation. I practically run on coffee. My 21 credit hour semester was a killer.  On a typical day, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get myself ready. Then, I wake Landon up at 7 a.m., get him dressed and feed him breakfast. Then, I take Landon to daycare and head to Lindenwood. I usually am either in class or work and learn from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then, I pick Lan up from daycare, feed him dinner, play with him and put him to bed around 7:30 p.m. Then, the homework begins.”

Curtis Billhymer, a public relations professor at Lindenwood and one of Merkt’s favorite teachers, said that Merkt is a student that is consistently standing out.

“Jessica [Merkt] is a good example of that rare individual who defies the odds, chooses to create for herself the discipline necessary to realize her strengths – to create her own opportunities and make the most of them,” Billhymer said. “To be old fashioned about it, she has character.”

Apart from taking classes, being a mother and working a part-time job, Merkt also works in the Career Center at Lindenwood.

The Director of the Career Center, Dana Wehrli, said that Merkt is an outstanding individual.

“I have known Jessica [Merkt] for the past three years. I consistently find her to be extremely conscientious, mature, bright and personable. As a student worker in the Career Center, I observe Jessica to be eager and willing to give 110 percent to all tasks and projects assigned,” Wehril said.

“She has consistently been on the Dean’s List and further demonstrated a commitment to her professional goals by completing a summer internship with Ronald McDonald House Charities. Overall, she is an outstanding individual. Her organizational and analytical skills are exceptional. Jessica’s interpersonal skills are well developed and her ability to conduct herself in difficult situations is admirable.”

Friend and roommate Jennifer Nickerson said she is constantly inspired by Merkt.

What the future holds for Merkt

Merkt will graduate this May and go on to intern for Think Tank, a public relations and marketing firm based in Glen Carbon, IL.

However, Merkt said her dreams do not stop there.

Even with her past life experiences and obstacles, Merkt said she knows that her future is bright for her and her son and as long as she has her loyal and loving support system, she said she can handle anything.

As for Merkt and her son, she said that his happiness and their relationship are most important.

“I want the kind of life for my son that I had growing up, minus the surprise pregnancy,” Merkt said.

“I want him to be able play any sport he wants, pursue any hobby he would like and go to any college he wants. I want us to always be close. The biggest thing I want Landon to be able to do is pursue his dreams and value education as much as I do.”

feature photo credit: kickofjoy.com

“How-To” make Jill happy and do well in the blogging world

As a student, it is essential to get to know your teachers.

More importantly, it is essential to understand what makes them happy. This is important because good student+happy teacher=passing grade. Pretty significant, right?

You could go the whole “teacher’s pet” route. So if that’s more your style then you can stop reading and just watch the video below:

But if you want to go the more personal route, then continue reading.

For starters, it is important to point out that all professors are unique, and different professors appreciate different things. Therefore, it is vital to understand that you need to get to know every professor on an individual basis.

However, there are some basic qualities that every professor loves.

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That

All professors appreciate when you show up to class on time. Not only that, but when you show

photo credit-keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
photo credit-keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

up and pay attention. 

Unlike Jill, many professors won’t appreciate you having your phone and computer on with multiple social networks up. So unless you’re taking online journalism, set down the technology.

Also, most professors appreciate it when their student is interested in what’s being taught. So it’s imperative to engage in the discussion and make your interest palpable; even if you’re faking it.

Another important behavior that makes professors happy is when their students SHUT UP. Most classes are lecture based which means that students need to keep quiet.

And then there’s the whole “do your homework” thing but that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Virtual Achievement 

If you are unsure about what Online Journalism really is, click here.

In online journalism, Jill requires us to write multiple blog posts; and these posts come with requirements. You want Jill to be happy? DO ALL THE REQUIREMENTS.

They are as followed:

  • Hyperlinks- add at least two of these into every story you write. This way, you are interacting with other sites as well. And Jill likes that. The more interaction, the better.
  • Photos- photos galore! Fill your posts with photos (tastefully). It makes the post more fun to look at and interesting to read. But make sure to try and use your own photos. And always caption and tag them.
  • Videos- At some point, readers want to take a break from reading. That’s where videos come into play. Allow the reader to just sit back and relax. Just make sure the video is relevant and interesting.
  • Subheaders- Subheaders break up the text and make your story more reader-friendly. A giant block of text is unappealing and overwhelming. Multiple paragraphs and subheaders make the post more attractive and inviting.
  • Make it Interesting- The best way to make a blog post interesting, is to care about what you’re writing. Blogging isn’t like writing a news story. You can have opinion and bias and emotion. So use it all. Get invested in your story and make the reader care.

After including all the necessary components of a blog…talk to Jill. Ask any questions, talk to her about any technological difficulties…just talk to Jill.

Like I said before, professors like when students show interest. Jill likes it when students interact. So don’t be afraid to talk to her about what you are writing.

Jill will help anybody who comes to her. She has never once turned me down, and she will give you more time on an assignment if you come to her with problems.

Just be honest, dedicated and follow the blog guidelines.

Future students, you’ll be just fine.



feature photo credit: stemcollege.wordpress.com

Virtual Reality


This semester I took one of my favorite classes so far in my schooling career–online journalism. It was also one of the most stressful classes. Ever. The workload was incredible, the amount of media sites I had to make accounts for was overwhelming and the technological issues made me want to destroy my precious MacBook–who isn’t to blame for anything.

With all the times I have wanted to skip class, give up and just scream…I have to admit that this is one of the only classes I’ve ever had that I can actually say I have learned something I will use for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have found many classes beneficial, but this one was different.

So, what did I learn you ask? Well, where do I start?

At the Beginning

The first day of class, Jill, the professor, said I was required to open a Gmail account. But why? I mean I had Earthlink so why can’t she just email me from there. It’s just email so there’s no difference, right? WRONG. Number 1: The Importance of Google…everything. That is the first thing I leaned. How I have gone so long without it, I will never know. But now that I have it, I will never go back and I cannot see myself using something else. Google has something for everything and will connect people to one another in every way possible. Kudos, Google.

One of the other things I learned is important to every journalist and I felt silly not taking it this seriously before this class. Number Two: Read Up. I never really took the time to read up on other journalists work because I thought what I had to say mattered enough. Selfish, I know. But I’m not like that anymore. Now, all I do is sit down and read other articles and blogs, and that has made me a better writer by far.

Something else I learned is the importance in trying new things. Number 3: Prezi Prez.What even is Prezi? I don’t know. PowerPoint was my weapon of choice. But Prezi was the requirement for a presentation I had to do. But now I’m a master and I find PowerPoint far too boring.

Stuck in the Middle

Throughout the duration of this class, the students were required to write a number of blogs. Although time consuming, I loved it. Number 4: Blogging Fool. As a journalist, I have to learn to write consistently and always in a creative way. So I became blog obsessed and when I don’t write at least once a day, my day isn’t complete.

Here is a video about how to start up your first blog!

I hate social media. I hate Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I think there’s a sense of arrogance about it and I never really enjoyed taking part in it. I thought it was irrelevant. Boy was I wrong. Number 5: Swamped by Social Networks. I had to get and Instagram and I had to reactivate my Twitter. At first I was annoyed because I thought it was a waste of time. Until Jill gave the class a multitude of news sites to follow. And now I have joined the rest of society and I’m addicted. But unlike most people who just consume unimportant information. I consume and create information that effects me and my life.

Every week we were required to read a chapter; but one in particular stood out to me. Number 6: Stay Involved. I can’t remember the actual title of the chapter and the book is somewhere in the house and I’m too comfortable to look for it. Anyway, this chapter detailed reasons why journalists not only need to read other people’s work, but to get involved in it. Read, comment, discuss. Build a community and eventually, my own work will become more popular.

Almost There

This class mandated a multitude of components in the stories I wrote. From photos and infographics, to videos and audio interviews. Although confusing at first, I underestimated the importance of them. Number 7: Spice Up Your Life. Or, ‘Media Up Your Blog.’ Online journalism allows me to do so much more with my stories than print does. I can make them mIMGP0015ore interactive and interesting, and I cannot fathom posting a story without at least one of those components. To prove my point, here’s a pretty picture I took when I was in Italy for the summer. I could show you a picture of the Colosseum or some recognizable Italian structure…but this carousel was one of my favorite parts of Florence:

One of the most important lessons I learned occurred near the end of the semester, when I was just about done and yearning for summer vay-cay. Number 8: The importance of a Creativity Enhancer. I was done. My head needed a break and I didn’t want to do any more school work. Every student knows that feeling of seriously contemplating dropping out of school. So during this time, my creativity was shot and I had a never-ending streak of writer’s block. Therefore, I needed to find a away to get those creative juices flowing. Thank you online journalism and the overwhelming workload. Because of you I have formed a writing routine: laptop, home-cooked meal, wine and John Mayer. Hallelujah.

One of the final things I learned is probably one of the toughest adjustments for an aspiring journalists. Number 9: Get In..or Out… of the Zone. Get out of your comfort zone. Better yet, don’t have one. As a journalist we have to be comfortable confronting all types of people at any time of the day.

Back to the Beginning

I love to write. Most importantly, I love writing what I want and when I want to write it. I hate being told what’s expected of me because I’ve always believed that as long as I exceed my own expectations, then I am doing alright. So with this mentality, I have never been a fan of being told what I need to write about and when it needs to be done. Though I do all my assignments, I don’t always enjoy them.

Because of this, I have been writing this blog just waiting for it to be the end so I can say I’m done. But…as a really do reach the end, I realize that this is my last lesson. Number 10: Journalism never ends. This class doesn’t end with this blog and expectations don’t end with this class. I need to remind myself that just because something comes to a close, does not mean it ends; because those lessons follow me wherever I go.

So, as I embark on my last summer as a college student and the final year before I enter the real world, I’m going to go back to the beginning. 

“I gotta have roots before branches; to know who I am before I know who I wanna be.” – Room for Two


Feature photo credit: soundcloud.com

Take a Hike

Weldon Springs Hiking Trails

Located down South HWY 94, about 20 minutes from Lindenwood campus, lies 385 acres of vast woods, rugged riverbanks, croplands, fishable lakes and hiking trails.

The trail splits into two directions. After 3 miles of hiking, one can either follow the Lewis Trail, which is a total of 8.2 miles until the end, or the Clark Trail, which is a total of 5.3 miles. Other trails include the Lost Vally Trail, which is 11 miles, and the Hamburg Trail, which is 6 miles.

Sam Hofheins, a first-time hiker, said that his experience at the Weldon Springs Clark Trail in one to remember.

“I have never really been hiking before,” Hofheins said. “But I really enjoyed it. It’s not just walking around in the woods; it’s really cool to be able to hear all the sounds around me and not hear cars are sirens or people talking.”

Hofheins said that he is definitely willing to go back.

“I am going to be at Lindenwood all summer taking classes so I’ve been trying to find things to fill my time. Hiking is definitely on my list now and I can see myself spending a lot of time there this summer.”

The Weldon Springs Conservation Area offers other various activities as well.

Other than hiking, people can fish, hunt, camp, bird watch and even go boating.

After hearing about all of the exciting and different activities offered at the Weldon Springs Conservation Area, Jennifer Nickerson is eager to take part.

Nickerson says she believes this is a different and rewarding pastime.

“I would much rather be outside exploring than sitting around the house all day,” Nickerson said. “The coolest part? It’s free! It won’t cost you a thing to go hiking and you get so much more out of it than just lounging around. It would be so much fun with a group of friends.”

Throughout the past few years, the amount of hiking participants has been steadily increasing. Below there is chart that shows that increase from year-to-year.

How to Stay Safe

Kara Mayer Robinson, a writer for WebMD, shares hiking tips to stay safe while our doors.

“Start slow. A short, local hike is best for beginners. Gradually work up to trails with hills or uneven terrain.

Bring a buddy. It’s best not to hike alone at first, especially on unfamiliar or remote trails. A partner or group can help you navigate and assist if you get hurt. As your skill level improves, you’ll feel more comfortable going solo.

Know before you go. Familiarize yourself with the trail map. Check the weather and dress and pack accordingly. If storms are a possibility, rethink your plan.

Use common sense. Follow marked paths and trails. Avoid contact with questionable plants and animals.

Get into a groove. On the days you can’t make it to the trails, power-walk on a hilly terrain while carrying various degrees of weight in a backpack — it will keep your hiking skills and fitness level on track.”

For more information on the Weldon Springs Conservation Area and the activities it offers visit, visit http://mdc4.mdc.mo.gov/applications/moatlas/AreaSummaryPage.aspx?txtAreaID=7404


The Act of the Selfie

Selfies have been taking the world over by storm. For those of you who do  not know, Urban Dictionary says “selfie” means, “A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. A picture that is usually accompanied by a duckface or any other kind of unnatural expression; usually involves looking in another direction than the camera.”

According to Jessica Merkt, Instagram in always the “go-to” when you’re feeling the need make yourself look good.

“Choosing the right filter is a serious job,” Merkt says. “But I think most people can tell when a photo is real or when there’s a filter involved. Filters make everyone look better, that’s why they use them. You can’t take photos like that too seriously, but it’s always nice when a filter makes you feel pretty.”

How Selfies Can Result in Catastrophe

For obvious reasons, people do not advertise their negative traits on social media and they will not post unflattering photos on Instagram. Because we are in need to control how we are viewed by others, we are strict about what is found about us on social media.

However, we are often fooled by others who post photos, specifically selfies, that many times invoke feelings of envy.

Screen shot 2014-04-23 at 12.23.38 PM
Sarah Boofer taking a selfie while enjoying a cookie

“Almost every time I go on Instagram I am in awe of some of the stunning photos my friends and celebrities post,” said Sarah Boofer, an avid consumer of social media. “It takes me a while to realize that they are using a filter and that what I am seeing has been altered.”

Like many others, Boofer realizes that her sense of time has been altered as well.

“I continue looking at others and I lose my sense of time even though I know most of what I see is not entirely real. I don’t really post selfies unless I want to show a new hair color or something like that. I think there’s something cocky about selfies, not everyone want to look at your face as bad as you think they do.”

Consumers like Boofer  and Merkt have a difficult time remembering to differentiate between what is “the perfect tan” and what is the X-Pro II effect.

“Everyday I say ‘she looks amazing!’ but then I have to remind myself and say ‘she looks amazing…with that filter!'” Merkt said.

According to the Chicago Tribune, even the amount of followers plays a role in the importance of the consumer.

Social networker Mohammed Gol says, “If someone has more friends than you do, then you think that he’s more popular or that people like him more.”

While selfies are important in the social media world, the amount of people consuming them is what really matters. Because of the need to consume and view these photos, and the desire to have others consume yours, depression linked to Instagram is on the rise due to the fact that people comparing themselves to one another is constantly increasing.


How To Prevent Possible Depression

According to Kelsey Sunstrum, a writer for Psych Central, there are three main ways a consumer can work on treating and preventing depression caused by social media:

  • Take the time to unplug from technology and social media accounts everyday.
  • When faced with social media-induced self-loathing, confront your negative thoughts and question their origin and validity.
  • If you’re drawn to social media during times of boredom, ensure you have something to distract yourself, such as a book or fun phone app.
    photo credit cnet.com

The Code of the Selfie: Reality vs. Filter

Boofer offers advice for people who have a hard time telling the difference between reality and filters. “I always have to remind myself that what I am seeing is not real. I can say ‘wow look how gorgeous he/she looks in this picture!’ and I’ll mean that because they do. But I can’t take it seriously. Instagram is for entertainment most of the time and selfies are no different. It’s really important for people not to trust everything they see to be real or else it will break them.

“You need to get rid of that source of negativity or else you will be consumed with wondering why you don’t look like them or you’ll become obsessed with trying to.”

The Selfie Code:

Spend however long you want taking the perfect selfie and use your favorite filter that gives you that flawless glow.If it makes you happy, do it. And do it again until your entire profile is filled with photos enhanced by the Mayfair filter. Just remember, everyone else is doing the same thing. 


feature image photo credit: www.digitalinformationworld.com