Be Thankful Everyday

thankful

Thanksgiving is here. Honestly, it seemed like last Thanksgiving happened a few weeks ago. These years sure fly by. Today, we give thanks for all that we have in our lives, and launch off model rockets lol. I just want to tell you guys that you don’t need just one day to show thanks or what you have. Be thankful everyday of the year. Here is a list of some of the things I am grateful/thankful for:

1) My friends and family

2) My health

3) My cat, Sirius

4) cookies

5) This blog and all of those reading and commenting

6) My education

7) The motivation I have to finish my doctorate

8) Scootering

9) Model Rocket launches

10) Time away from work

These are just a few of the things that I am thankful for. What are some things that you are thankful for? Let me know in the comments. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Favorite Recipes

Few people actually know that I was on a culinary competition team in high school and we won quite a few competitions. I was actually awarded a scholarship to go to culinary school as well. As my long time readers know, I did not follow that path, and instead, went to UF for engineering and now I’m getting my doctorate. Crazy how things change so quickly.

Here I am at the ProStart cooking competition in Orlando

Anyway, I do enjoy cooking. Not as much as I used to, unfortunately, but I still enjoy it. I wanted to share my favorite recipes that I have come across in the many years I’ve been in the kitchen. As a grad student, one of the best things you can do is just experiment in the kitchen. Many of us rely on to-go orders and spend way too much on take out. Cooking is a great way of stress relief as well as a way to save a ton of money.

I figured this would be a good post since November is the start of gluttony season lol. You can try these recipes before your family comes over for the holidays. They are definitely crowd pleasers and it gives you a wonderful opportunity to hone your culinary skills. Plus, they are cheap and you can make a ton to eat throughout the week. So let’s get started.

Brown Pie on Brown Wooden Tray

Butter Chicken

So I am going to link to each recipe so this post isn’t 12 pages long. This recipe, I found on reddit one day while looking for Indian food recipes. This is the best butter chicken that I have ever eaten. People beg me for the recipe, which I share of course, but it’s that good. If you like Indian food, and don’t care about calories, you’ll love this recipe. Put it over rice and it becomes the perfect meal. Also, the butter chicken gets better as it sits in the fridge. The next day is way better than the first.

Here is the recipe

Free stock photo of bakery, baking, butter

Alton Brown’s Biscuits

I made this recipe one day while quarantining at my girlfriend’s dad’s house. Everyone loved it so much that we made it two more times afterwards. These are my all-time favorite biscuits and they are so easy to make. This is slightly biased because Alton Brown is my hero, but the biscuits are phenomenal.

Here is the recipe

Bowl of Meat

Orange Chicken

This one required a bit more time and effort (and some courage) to make. Orange chicken is sooooooooo good. I love Panda Express’ version of it but it honestly can be hit or miss with them. This recipe is 1000000Xs better than their orange chicken. I haven’t made this in a while because I am trying to get over a bit of a fear. In March, I had a pretty bad accident with cooking oil, so I am slowly trying to get back to being comfortable with it. But, if you are courageous and don’t mind deep frying, this recipe is for you. I highly suggest doubling the sauce and adding way more garlic and ginger. Other than that, this recipe is perfect. Once again, don’t count the calories!!! lol

Here is the recipe

Key Lime Pie

As a Floridian, there are two things you must love, or at least tolerate. 1) Alligators 2) Key Lime Pie. Key lime pie is one of my favorite desserts, mostly because lime is my favorite flavor. The keys have the best pies, since that’s where it originated. Publix have an amazing key lime pie as well. If you are down here, I suggest getting one of theirs. If you are in the Keys, check out Blonde Giraffe.

Here is a really easy and simple recipe for Key Lime Pie that I found on Reddit (It’s the first comment). Alsways remember that key lime pie uses graham cracker crust, not anything else. If the place has anything but graham cracker, leave. I mean it, just leave and go make you’re own.

Here is the recipe

Let Me Know Your Recipes

Do you have an awesome recipe that you are willing to share? If so, I am sure a ton of us would absolutely be floored by it. I am always on the lookout for recipes that are easy, delicious, cheap, and plentiful. I also like to cook for friends and show off a bit. Let me know of any cool recipes in the comments.

As always, I hope you guys have an awesome day and week. Also, for those asking about pictures from yesterday’s Viking wedding, Below is a picture of my girlfriend, Madison, and I. Madison made the fur things (not sure what they are called) herself.

Happy Halloween

Today is my absolute favorite holiday. Halloween is just such a cool holiday that has an amazing build up. The only other holiday that is more fun the month prior to it is Christmas. Thanksgiving doesn’t even come close.

Woman sitting holding pumpkin

Halloween is just so fun because of all of the decorations, parties, and candy. Lots and lots of candy. It is also an awesome day for my cat, Sirius, since he is a black cat.

Today, I am going to a wedding where we are allowed to dress up as Vikings. This will be my second themed wedding, which is pretty cool if you have never been to one. My girlfriend and I are going to dress formally but also have Viking stuff on as well. It should be a blast.

This blog is going to be very short because we have to get ready. I just wanted to tell you all Happy Halloween and I hope you and your kids get tons of candy! If you haven’t already, check out my blog about some interesting Halloween facts. (here and here).

Have a wonderful day, and I will see you all tomorrow!

100 Things I am Grateful For

The title says it all. This very post will be my lucky 100th blog post. Well, technically yesterdays post was, but I deleted a blog post to make this post my 100th! Hurray. Anyway, I have come a very long way since starting this journey, and I have a heck of a long road to go. But, I am super excited to what this road brings.

Today, I want to focus on 100 things that I am grateful for in my life. I have written about things that I have learned throughout these years (link here), but I have only touched up on the things I am grateful for. So today, I am going to tackle this behemoth of a list and post all of the things that I am truly grateful for. Here we go

The List

  • Grad school
  • Coffee
  • My family
  • My Girlfriend
  • Waking up at sunrise
  • Going to bed at a reasonable time
  • My cat, Sirius
  • The ability to mess around in my lab and call it “science”
  • The many nights of just talking with my friends
  • My friends
  • Key lime pie from Blonde Giraffe
A Person and a Layered Cake
  • My therapist
  • Talkspace.com
  • Fall weather in Gainesville
  • The Florida Gators
  • My advisor
  • Good deeds
  • Nice people
  • Even mean people (it makes me appreciate the nice people more)
  • The Florida Keys
  • Fishing
  • Engineering
  • The time spent with my family
  • Weekends
  • Lab work
  • My committee members
  • Being able to say I am a PhD Candidate
  • A good show on Netflix
  • That Good Will Hunting is a movie
Brown and Green Grass Field during Sunset
  • Sunrises
  • Sunsets
  • Waking up each morning
  • being alive
  • Long lists
  • Productivity
  • Good memories
  • My apartment
  • The scooter that I just bought from Amazon
  • Vanilla cake
  • The University of Florida
  • The many people that have helped me in my doctoral journey
  • My boat
  • Having an income
  • My health
  • Personal training
  • Being able to do stadium workouts
  • Experiencing the struggles of life
  • Walking!
Blue Body Water
  • Mother nature
  • The beach
  • The ocean
  • Travelling
  • Being able to carve wooden figurines
  • Knowing how to do calculations on excel
  • Not being afraid to give presentations
  • Ajahn Brahm
  • Being able to listen to really good music
  • Trees!
  • Dogs, especially both of mine, Loki and Thor
  • Alligators. They’re cool
  • Turtles
  • My office mates
  • Random strangers that say hello as you walk by
  • Puppies
  • Kittens
  • Being able to get fresh food from the store
  • Technology
  • The washer and drier
  • Being able to look out a window (you appreciate this more if you have an office without windows)
  • Audible books
  • Google Pays
Close-Up Photo of Person Holding Pizza
  • Pizza
  • Literally any food that has cheese
  • My brain
  • All of my senses
  • The feeling you get when something just makes sense to you
  • Silence
  • Meditation
  • Life lessons
  • My failures
  • All of the teachers that I have had
  • All of the heart breaks that I have gone through
  • Finding happiness in every situation
  • I really appreciate the influx of skateboarders on campus
  • Electricity
  • To add to that, AC
  • My car
  • Water
Frozen Margarita
  • The occasional margarita
  • Kickball leagues
  • My name
  • My future
  • Being able to go home to a really comfortable bed
  • Growing in everything I do
  • The good days
  • The bad days
  • Mindfulness
  • Seasons
  • Blogging
  • My readers

This is a very long list of the many things that I am grateful for. Let me know in the comments of all the things you are grateful for, well not all, just put a few lol. I hope you guys have a great day.

Appreciation

I want to take a moment to show appreciation to the many people around me that keep me going. This weekend, I celebrated my birthday with my girlfriend and her family. It was absolutely wonderful and filled with love, joy, and a bit of alcohol too lol. It was a wonderful day getting to spend it with them then I got to spend yesterday with my family. Yesterday had much less alcohol but the same amount of love and joy as I had on Saturday. What a wonderful weekend indeed.

Brown Wooden Rabbit Figurine on White Surface

Sometimes I get caught up in my own life and my own worries that I forget to just take time and hang with those that love you. This includes friends, family, pets, literally anyone. I was able to do just that this weekend and I felt so much love. This is what makes being alive so special. We get to experience these types of moments. These moments are what you will remember years from now. It won’t be how many hours you spent at work, or how you saved a client thousands of dollars. No, you’ll remember sitting on a porch, in 75 degree fall weather, just hanging with the ones you love.

Grad school doesn’t offer many moments like this. It is demanding and wants you to spend your life in the lab/library/office. Don’t listen to it. Sure, getting a ton of papers written and published is cool, but many of those people that work all of the time are depressed and do need a lot of help. I know quite a few, me being one of them, unfortunately. I am much better now, though. Don’t worry.

Enjoy the time you have with loved ones. Focus on the happiness that comes from those moments and bring that happiness into moments you feel sad. Always remember that there are people that truly care for you no matter what.

If you haven’t read my post about the 29 Things I’ve Learned by 29, then I suggest checking it out (link here). Today, I leave you with homework. I want you to think of a really great time with friends, family, random people, whoever. I want you to think of all of the great times you’ve had and fill your body up with all of that joy. Then I want you to just sit with that feeling for a few moments. When you have sad times, I hope that you can remember the feeling of love and joy from this exercise. It will help you through the bad times.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Make Sure Your Friends Are Ok

I spend a great amount of time alone. That is just how academia works to be honest. Finding friends has been a bit of a tricky situation since starting for this fact. Luckily, through some persistence, and dumb luck, I have found quite a few friends to share my time with. These individuals are also graduate students, so we are all in this chaotic boat called the doctorate program.

Everyone complains in my department about the exact same things, long hours, impossible workloads, sometimes weeks of no work (weird but it comes up), etc. It’s quite normal to have one of my friends come to me, complaining how badly they want to leave. They feel lonely, imposter syndrome is kicking their butts, or something is happening with their adviser. This is why it is so important to be kind to others in your program.

Grad school is easy. Doing the work is easy. Thinking about the workload and the dissertation and also thinking about all of the alone time and isolation, that’s the hardest part. I believe this is a major contribution to why people are very unhappy in grad school. They have shown that they can do the work, but they get caught up in their own heads, thinking about other things that come with grad school. This is just one hypothesis that I have, but that’s for a different day.

Two Women Sitting Near Trees

Your friends need help too. In fact, if you are in a mentally healthy position in grad school, please help your friends with coping mechanisms. I have started to do just this, not only to my friends in academia but also those working full time, in the real world. Make sure your friends are doing well. They are such a valued part of your life, and if they are hurting, you probably will as well.

Make sure to check in with your friends often. Also, check in with the other students in your department as well. You don’t even have to say much. A simple “good morning” or “what’s up?” is enough. When people around me say stuff like that, it always makes me feel better. You’re friends will probably be the same way.

fight

Everyone is fighting some form of fight. We all have demons, but that doesn’t mean we all have to suffer. Grad school can be a terrible place for people if they don’t have the right support. Why not become that support? But, like most things, be warned. You may be taking on quite a bit if you try and get your friends to open up to you more. They might be having a very rough time and need you there. Remember, be like a dust pan. Take up all of their “trash” but make sure to dump it in a trash can. Do not hold onto their problems or you will get burnt out. Learn to let go. Check out my blog on other mindfulness techniques that you can use too (link here).

If you could do me a favor today, please check in with your friends this week. Make sure things are ok, and if not, offer some support. I guarantee it will be well worth it. I want to leave you all with a YouTube video about mindfulness and kindfulness. Check it out below. See you all in the next blog.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

How Writing a Blog Can Help With Mental Health

Today is an important day for me. Today, I will have written 50 blog posts. That may not seem like many, but trust me, it’s a ton for someone like me. I started writing blogs as a form of outlet, almost like journaling. My anxiety was creeping back, even though I had a significant arsenal of coping mechanisms. Journaling was not one of those methods that I had tried before. Also, I wanted to give back to the world somehow. There is already too much suffering in the world and I wanted to add a contribution to help, even just one person, suffer a little less.

I received an email today about my blogs. I was so overwhelmed because it was an appreciation email. They loved my writing and wanted to let me know that they loved it so much, they couldn’t stop reading. This is what it is all about, my friends. Blogging is more than just writing about my problems, it’s finding solutions and helping those with the same problems, solve their problems. So many people in this world just care about themselves. I completely understand that mentality because life had me feeling this way for a very long time. I found this was helpful to get what you wanted in life, but you aren’t really contributing in the best way you can.

Two months ago, I decided to take a journey to help people, rather than just help myself. I wanted to help graduate students that were experiencing mental health and giving helpful ways to cope. I also wanted to help with their fitness, but soon found that focusing on mental health needed more of my attention. Don’t worry though, more fitness blogs will surely follow. I found that the more I wrote, the more feedback I received, the less anxious I became. Journaling is a good coping mechanism, but mixing it with giving helpful advice, well that’s a recipe for success.

I have found a little place in this world of blogging, my niche. And in so, I have found that my anxiety, my stress, my depression, have been reduced to levels I haven’t seen in years. I wish I could go back in time and just tell myself that it will be a long journey, but one where you find yourself, at least I have found 28 year old Ben. I may be a lot different in 5 years ;P.

If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, any form of mental health, I want to add one more coping mechanism to your toolbox, and of course that is blogging. It has helped me to express myself and openly to other people. There are so many people in the writing community that have been so supportive. Honestly, the blogging is a way to cope with my anxiety, but, you, the reader, have helped to significantly reduce my anxiety. Thank you so much, blogging community! I owe you more than you know.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

So You Got a Cat in Grad School: Best Purchases For Them

Making decisions in the moment can be super stressful and down right anxiety inducing. One of the “spur-of-the-moment” things that I did 2 years ago was adopt my cat, Sirius. It amazes me how, at the time, well a little bit after the moment I adopted him, I thought it was a bad idea. I let fear and anxiety take over and really cause me to rethink my choice. If I could, I’d go back in time and slap my past self and tell him that getting a pet was the best thing you’ve done in grad school. Getting a cat is a big responsibility, but ultimately, an amazing choice. I would do anything for my little guy. Anyway, if you just so happened to get yourself a kitty in college, here are some toys and things that I bought him that make him happy, my furniture happy (no claw marks), as well as me happy, along with my budget.

  1. A SmartCat Pioneer Pet Scratch Post

Best investment ever! It will set you back about $50 but it’s worth 1000x’s that amount. Sirius’s claw’s are sharp and my arms, legs, chest, and face can tell you that lol. This scratch post keeps him from clawing at furniture in my house, which is a major plus since the furniture belongs to my roommates. I put this first because this is most important.

2. A cat shelf

I specifically got Sirius this one. He absolutely loves climbing onto these and hiding behind the plants. It also acts as a scratch board so he doesn’t scratch anything else. You can see that scratch boards are very important.\

3. Plush Flopping Fish

Oh man, this is a good one. It is rechargeable and he goes crazy for this toy, mostly because there is catnip in it. Sirius will spend most of the day cuddling it on his hammock too. I have some great pictures. Here’s one.

Image

4. Cat Hammock

I purrrrsonally got Sirius this one, though I believe any hammock would be just fine. He only sleeps in the hammock. I put a blanket on it to keep him warm and that’s all he needs. The window hammocks are the best because he gets to look out and see the birds and people outside from the comfort of a bed. A win-win.

5. Bird feeder

I got him a suction cup bird feeder that keeps him entertained for hours. I am usually at the office for a good amount of time so I want him entertained until I can come home and play with him. This is the perfect thing to get and you also attract a ton of cool birds as well as squirrels.

6. Cat Spiral Springs

I buy Sirius super fancy toys like feather toys, roller coaster circuit toys, as well as a cat tunnel, but his favorite toy is just a simple spring that he can hit around. Honestly, just get your cat a wire tie and they are good to go for the day. Super simple and effective.

These are things that I feel cat owners should buy. They have worked pretty well for me and my cat loves them. If you are a grad student and work long hours, I would strongly suggest getting something like what I have shown above to keep your furry friend happy until you get home. Let me know what you buy your cat to keep them entertained and happy.

Enjoying Family Time

I just want to show my appreciation for my family. My family includes my parents, brother, girlfriend as well as my brother’s girlfriend and daughter. As we get older, my brother and I, we have started to go off on our own. I can see how it affects my mom as well as my dad knowing that their sons are both starting the wonderful journey that is life. But for one week out of the year, we take time away from our busy lives to spend it all together. This vacation has been a great one so far. Having the time to see and be with my family has made me understand that life is not about work, life is about the relationships you have with others, the journeys you take, the risks you make, and the love you show, wherever you end up.

We all come from different backgrounds and situations. Family may mean a lot different than a blood relative to you. It may be close friends, a neighbor, your pet, a significant other, or the guy down the street that waves to you each morning. No matter what “family” is, appreciate it. Spend time with them because you will remember these moments way more than what happened at work. Life is so much more and we are just scratching the surface.

I hope everyone is having a great week with whatever you might be doing. Today, we decided to go to Key West and go to the butterfly museum as well as take a walk through the cemetery. I was able to spend some quality time with my family as really appreciate the day. I wanted to share with you all because I know you guys really understand the importance of having quality relationships with others. It is truly one of the best things in life.

How the Heck Do You Make Friends in Grad School, or, Well, in General?

“How the heck does everyone around me have a million friends?” I see it all of the time in school. Literally pods of students all together, seemingly having a great time with their friends. In undergrad, I wanted that so much. In grad school, I just want to be able to talk with a few people, not a whole group. But how are these people making so many friends? That I cannot answer, but I can give tips on how to make really great friends, something I will cherish way more than having a bunch of people that you aren’t that close with.

It has taken me about three years to establish a really good friends group. It mostly consists of max five people, but they are all people that I genuinely like and know on a deeper level. Grad school can be extremely tough to make friends. If you are a PhD candidate, like me, it can me almost impossible since you will spend a great amount of time alone. But with a little persistence and some courage, I guarantee that you will find friends.

  1. Join a club or sports league

Clubs are super easy to join and frankly you don’t have to put that much effort into it. If you join a club that really falls in line with your interest, you will find friends. People just like you, with similar interests will be there and you’ll get to know each one of them pretty well. sports leagues/intermural leagues are also a great way to make friends. I am currently on a kickball team with people that are my age, drinking, and having fun. We go to get drinks after games each week and they have even invited me to parties.

2. Get a part-time job

This is a bit tricky in grad school because your adviser may say it breaches contract or you may not graduate on time. Luckily for me, my adviser doesn’t care unless it’s between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm. As I have stated, I am a personal trainer so my hours of work are later. Jobs are great because you will spend a ton of time with people, mostly students in a college town, but also some older people too. Some of my closest friends that I have are from a job I had in undergrad.

3. Meetup.com

I don’t have a lot of experience using this but I know people that swear by it. This one takes a bit of courage because you may be meeting a ton of people for the first time and that can cause a great amount of anxiety. Heck, my anxiety is the reason I don’t use this. Meetup does a great job of bringing people with similar interests together, and honestly, that’s what you want in friends.

4. Blog

Blogging can introduce you to so many people in the world. I have just started but I can definitely see how I can make a ton of friends with what I am doing. The interactions that I have with people are just truly amazing and I think this is a fantastic way to make friends.

5. Having a roommate

This one may require some luck if you have roommate matching. If not, and you can pick your roommate, then this is way easier to make a friend. I have friends all over the world that used to live with me that I call friends. By being forced to live with someone, you see how they actually are, all the time. You develop a deeper relationship with the person and that can be a good or bad thing lol. I have had some amazing roommates that are close friends. But be warned…friends might not always make good roommates!!!

Anyway, this was a short list of ways that I have been successful at making friends. It’s hard, but with a bit of work and luck, you can have amazing relationships with people. Let me know how you make friends or if you want too be my friend!