Hiking Home

Today my heart is filled with love and gratitude for the 100 people in this village, and the 5 with whom I’ve spent every hour of every day .  I’m trying my hardest not to cry and I’m struggling to find the words to describe what this trip meant to me, so why don’t you just take a look?😉

AKA I’m exhausted and filled with too many emotions to write a coherent blog post. So please watch my video.

(P.S.A. Amp up the volume.)

 

Love and hugs from miles away, see you Wednesday❤

 

Live, laugh, love, bake,

Marley and Me

P.S. Always give in to your wanderlust.

Oh, Pooh

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For the past hour I’ve been staring at this photo to remind myself that the world is a beautiful place.

Why?

I spent my day at a Sewage treatment plant.

Just let that sink in for a sec.

(REMEMBER HIM??? Hint: Lizzie McGuire)

Actually, it was really interesting. And for a developed country, Iceland is doing a really shitty job.

(Excuse the pun.)

 

Ideally we’d all convert to compost toilets, give up on plastics entirely, and stop dumping crap into our beautiful bodies of water.

But since people don’t seem to find this glamorous (SHOCKING), we’re lacking some serious funds and conversation.

 

SO if you’d like to talk more about poop processing, I’m all ears.

(Like this creature.)

But for those of you who find this entirely disgusting (which I totally understand), I’ll change the topic.

So here’s to some of these Siena hooligans who remind me that the whole world isn’t full of shit😉

We go by “The Minions” but formally we’re Peer Advisors (which sounds like way less fun…)

Just one of the many Siena Families I can’t wait to squeeze when I come home❤

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To Kaylee: Without you’d I’d have lost every last one of my three remaining marbles. Thank you for the hours you spent with me covered in dust and old school supplies and class essays from the 80s in order to organize, prioritize and (obviously) color code the office.

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To Ellen: To the sweetest of the sweethearts, I am so glad that we had time together this summer for adventures, storytime, and homework bonding. I miss you so very berry much and cannot wait to come home and see your beautiful smile!

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To Jess: (Yes, I stole this picture from your facebook🙂 which means we need to take some together…) It’s hard to believe how close we’ve gotten just over one semester, I miss you so much and am so grateful to have a friend who loves hiking, yoga, nature, and food as much as I do. Here’s to all the sanity we’ll lose next semester❤

To Holly: There aren’t enough words to describe how grateful I am for everything you do for me. Your help, guidance, kindness, and love are unmatched. I hope that someone is making sure you get your fruits and veggies while I’m gone. (And if your desk is a mess there will be hell to pay…JUST KIDDING…kind of…) You’re not just advisor of the year, you’re one of a lifetime❤

So, even when the world seems full of poo, or particularly poo-ish* individuals, it helps to remember you’ve got a group of Minions ready to help❤

*NOT to be confused with Pooh-ish. He’s perfect. Everyone should aspire to be Pooh-ish.

 

Hugs and hugs and hugs and hugs❤

 

Live, laugh, love, bake,
Marley and Tea

P.S. Always give in to your wanderlust

The Game is Never Over

When applying to come to Solheimar I was:

  1. A ball of excitement (as evidenced by lots of jumping and spontaneous Disney song singing)
  2. Impatient impatient im…AM I THERE YET?!
  3. SO FLIPPITY-FLAPJACK READY FOR THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME

I was a woman on a mission. (Still am.)

Prepare your gameface.

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I explained to them that I am optimistic about our ability to change this path humanity has put itself on, we can come back and save our planet, and better yet, we will. But I am just one person, and a young one at that. I need teachers, researchers, and practice. I believed that a semester in Solheimar was the perfect recipe to  push me on my quest for a better planet.

And show me they have.

Here I have learned, grown, and experienced all that I could have ever dreamed of. And yet, there is still so much more to do.

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It seems we haven’t been listening to our grandparents. I remember their generation reiterating the saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” as words to live by. And yet, here we are, years down the road with a depleting ozone layer, melting ice caps, a rising sea level, and draining sources of fresh water. To say the least, we’re in a pickle (and not one of the yummy kinds).

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Simply testifying that we are faced with critical sustainability issues is a vast understatement of the predicament humanity and planet Earth are stuck in. With the issues varying far and wide, the task can seem too daunting to accomplish.

But it isn’t.

Like a term paper the importance is in the details, details that are allocated to different paragraphs. If we all unite together with one common goal (save the planet by focusing on sustainability) we can use this as our thesis and then divide and conquer.

So what would the main body paragraph include in my mind? Currently, development. Today’s globalized economy is watching the effects of colonization continue to grow as underdeveloped nations fall further behind and developed economies charge full speed ahead. The current state of all-consuming absolute poverty in many developing countries and growing inequality around the world begs the question: Where did this all begin?

During the periods of colonization and industrialization mother countries took raw materials from their colonies and used them to their own gain. The immediate impact was that of imposed monoculture and poverty, while today the lack of industrialization kept them from being affluent participants in the global market, even post-colonization, and thus they fall further and further behind as the technological era speeds ahead.
Nelson Mandela was quoted saying “We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender, and other discrimination.” And around the world we claim this is what we do, start movements and policies to ensure the eventual flourishing of everyone on the planet.

But, European nations and the United States wrecked the planet in their efforts to grow. And yet here we sit, wondering why underdeveloped nations cannot progress when the materials are gone AND there are imposed environmental regulations to boot.

We need a revolution: A revolution to marry development with environmental sustainability. Let’s pull people out of poverty and tie it to pulling the planet away from death’s door. Environmental sustainability was one of the main millennium development goals set up by the United Nations. 15 years in and we’re not there. Have we even started? We need people-power behind the movement. The planet’s got people, and plenty of them, so let’s start moving. Together we can change the world, and together we can save the planet, in fact, we can do both at the same time. I think. I’m still brainstorming on how.

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With a semester in Solheimar (almost) under my belt, I thought I had found a good starting point.

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And hopefully, I have.

But then I realized that so much of what brought me here today was what I learned in the Dominican Republic. I was volunteering to teach English through Siena College, but what really happened is that the kids and my fellow volunteers taught me some Spanish, and a lot about life.

To Charlieann: It’s hard to believe I met you less than a year ago. You feel like the big sister I’ve always wanted, a mentor I’ve always needed, and a friend I am so grateful to have❤ Some people you’ve known forever, even if you only just met. Thank you for your kindness, love, hugs, and smile that lights up a room🙂

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To Danielle: Where would I be without you?! From sleepless nights in the DR to Saturday coffee dates at Professor Java’s, I’m forever grateful to have you in my life. Without your sparkling eyes and laugh, the world wouldn’t be nearly as wonderful❤

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To Kelsey: The Elsa to my Anna, I cannot wait to come home and see you! Your positivity, passion, and pure heart will lead you to great places darling❤ and I can’t wait to see where.

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To Shannon: Once upon a time you were the resident who wasn’t mine but basically lived in my hallway, now you are the friend without whom I’d be lost. I’m grateful for every hug, dance, conversation and moment we’ve had, and every piece of our journey to come❤

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To Kate: YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO GRADUATE (I mean I’m happy for you but…). Anywho, I know you’re taking med-school by storm and changing the lives of everyone you meet (as you once did mine). I love you to death and cannot wait for more documentary-adventure nights to come❤

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To the Sisters: Thank you for opening up your home, school, and hearts to a bunch of over-excited students looking to learn and love the world. We were blessed to have met you.

To Sister Sue: Siena misses you dearly, and I am grateful to have met you in all of your glory before you left to a new adventure. Thank you for your hope, guidance, and the peace you spread with every word you spoke to us all. Come visit us soon?

To Amorcito/Lucky: Once upon a time you were left on the Sisters’ doorstep, and we couldn’t have fallen in love faster. These days you’re taking the backyard world by storm as you trample through the grass on a mission to make friends and chew everything in sight. What an unexpected surprise (and beautiful one) you were for us all❤

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To all of our friends in the D.R.: We miss you, we love you, and we will forever hold you in our hearts.

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My time in the Dominican with the Sisters and students continued to change my life long after I returned home. It motivated me to try harder, to get more involved, and to follow my heart wherever it takes me.

I joked that I left my soul there when I left. It must have been doing a lot of traveling since, because it met me here in Iceland. Words cannot describe how blessed I feel to be in a place of such magic, adventure, and learning.

Th world is ours for the changing.

So put on your Nikes and…nikebrand

Here are some pictures of this weekend’s snow covered hike (I have only just regained feeling in my toes and gotten my nose to stop running…yes, I caught it hehehehe) to remind you that this world is worth saving:

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Love and hugs from a positive popsicle❤

 

Live, laugh, love, bake,

Marley and Tea

P.S. Always give in to your wanderlust.

 

Time Flies (And So Do Pigs)

Once upon a time, I read a novel where a girl could pause time.

It sounded like heaven, she could learn hundreds of languages, read any book she pleased, and travel without interruption, without the fear of being late for class, dinner, and all those normal things🙂

It had me wishing I could stop time.

Then she aged prematurely, her extra years catching up with her.

One day her skin shriveled up, her hair grayed, and she died. Poof, from a 16 year old, to a literal pile of dust on the floor (I don’t know why this was their interpretation of death…like, BOOM you’re a sandbox?).

I no longer wish I could stop time. Because while I love a good sandbox, I don’t really want to be one.

Every once in a while my thoughts drift back to my original wish though, wondering if it would be worth it for just a little while longer in this heaven on earth in Solheimar.

Yesterday, it hit me hard.

2 weeks…

14 days…

Decreasing every minute (second, millisecond, you name it)…

…Until I leave the place I’ve come to call home and head back to the states.

Did I blink? I must have. 3 months can’t be almost over yet!!!

I JUST GOT HERE GOSH DARN IT ALL!

So today I am grateful for the 6 people who reminded me that the end of an adventure does not mean the end of living, of friendships, of experience, and of growth.

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To Angie: It’s hard to believe you’ve only been in my life for a few months. You feel like a sister that’s been in my life forever, and not the kind of sister that you hate…the one that you love and go to for everything always because she’s perfect and understanding and wonderful in all ways. I miss you so much and can’t wait to come home just in time for your going away celebration BECAUSE YOU’RE ON A FULLBRIGHT TO BRAZIL BABY!!!

To Jenna-bean: After living with you all summer, and being on staff together last fall, I go through legitimate separation anxiety when we’re apart. You are a spot of eternal sunshine in this crazy world, my source of everlasting optimism (and sarcasm), and my go-to coffeethattasteslikebadburnedtarbreakfastbuddy and readingintreesonthechapelpatioinspiration. Love you darling❤

To Isa: I can’t believe it has been over three months since I have heard your amazing laugh, gone on random adventures to who knows where with you, had you to keep me company on those nights on duty, and done so many arts and crafts that we were covered in marker and glitter. But you’re coming to visit this year…right?!

To Lucas: I AM SENDING YOU SO MANY HUGS RIGHT NOW. You have the most loving heart and I miss your smile all the time. Keep being amazing and don’t let anyone tell you you’re anything less than world-dominating and fabulous. The world could use more people like you❤

To Lio: You may not know it, but you are a teacher. You have taught me so much about friendship, adventure, travel, and growth. Thank you for your hugs, helping me through every mental breakdown, your indisputably amazing taste in music, and all the love you give to the world. Your friendship is something I will forever treasure.

To Filipe: The world has know idea how lucky they are to have you in it, if they did they’d thank you everyday. You are so pure of heart and soul, your kindness is unmatched, and your sense of adventure made for such an amazing summer for us all.  Thank you for putting up with my barefoot runs through fields, and always being up for star-gazing. I’m grateful for you always, don’t you dare ever forget that🙂

It’s not goodbye you see, it’s simply…

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So while this adventure is coming to a close (BUT IT’S NOT OVER YET), I know that the friends I’ve made and moments I’ve had make all of the sadness of leaving worth it.

Plus, how are we going to change the world if we don’t go home?😉

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Love and hugs from miles away, you’re always in my heart❤

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Live, laugh, love, bake,

Marley and Me

P.S. Always give in to your wanderlust.

 

Moves like Jagger

 

When I was a wee little one, I went to my first dance class. Barefoot and full of energy, I ran about the room with the poise of a rhinoceros.

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These days, I’m more like a baby elephant. But not for lack of trying to be otherwise (I promise Mom and Dad I TRY to be quiet…I just also fail).

Despite the face that my limbs have not transformed from 15 years of dance, my heart, mind and soul have.

To Ginny: From the moment you gave me my invisible string I felt blessed by a goddess. Your patience, grace, love, and encouragement have given me the belief in myself to take the world by storm. With you as our guide, dancing was so much more.

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To Dana: You instilled us with elegance and sass, a dangerous (and fun) combination. You motivated us to be the change we wanted to see the world, and reminded us daily not to let the world tame us. Thank you❤

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And when formal dance education ends, crazy dancing with friends begins…

To Kayla: Thank you for random dancing to disney songs when it was 2am and we were still doing homework in a building neither of us can pronounce, laughing at our dysfunction, keeping me sane through first semester of freshman year, being the light in my day and my person for always, and for becoming even more like a sister and staying by my side even when we’re 300 miles apart (303 to be exact).

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Then (when we didn’t have our lives together) and Now (when we still don’t)

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Without all of you I’d still be a rhino, and hunters keep trying to poach them so I’d probably be dead…and I kind of really enjoy living…

ANYWHO…why have I made you listen to me reminisce about dancing years gone by?

Because  when the weather gets rough, you can always dance in the rain!

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hehe hehe hehe hehe

So that’s what we’re going to do🙂

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And with that, the final five Sustainable Development Goals for 2030:

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Goal 13: Climate Action

As the UN puts it “Climate change presents the single biggest threat to development.”

And if we can’t get the government to believe us, we’ll just have to do the heavy lifting

(It’s okay people, I work out…2lb weights count, right?)

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But seriously, this one’s on us. (I’ve only been talking about this for two and a half months…)

Goal 14: Life Below Water

If nothing else gets to you, at least tell me you’re willing to save Dory.

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WE MUST FIND HER

(And save the lakes, oceans, rivers, ponds, streams, and puddles from pollution and disappearing biodiversity.)

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I highly recommend you watch “Damnation” (which will make you say “Damn we need to fix this nation” mwahaha)

Goal 15: Life on Land

You know how people have been telling you to plant a tree for years?

This time, do it.

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Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

We need to be held accountable for our actions, our choices, and our future.

It’s in our hands.

Make something of it.

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Some say we’ve reached a negative tipping point, we’re doomed.

I say the time has never been better to be the change you want to see in the world.

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Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals

It takes two to tango, and it takes every person for peace.

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THIS is our time (*powerful voice inflection* *assumes wonder woman stance*)

 

Hugs and power poses❤

 

Live, laugh, love, bake,

Marley

P.S. Always give in to your wanderlust

 

Let’s Get Crazy

Have I ever told you that I’m crazy?

Here’s the proof:

(And now we never speak of this again.)

 

A lot of people have worked hard to train me to be socially acceptable (it was no small feat).

These days I like to think I’m just the right amount of weird.

 

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(My headlamp is my new favorite accessory.)

When I think about my journey from strange child to strange college student, there are so many people who deserve awards (for putting up with me) and thanks (for teaching me).

So what brings a person to be an Economics major with a double minor in Environmental Studies and Mathematics? (Besides an insane delusion that it won’t drive me off the edge.)

To Mr. York, my 8th grade math teacher: Thank you for finding my love for numbers, teaching me that logic is addicting, and encouraging me to ask questions (even when it takes me forever to figure out how to word them).

To Dr. Kenney, the professor tasked with teaching us Calculus 2 in 4 weeks: Thank you for using fruit analogies for complicated topics, for color-coded white board illustrations, for random rants about the current weather patterns…but mostly for showing us the potential that lies within our brains.

To Mr. Mosall, my 12th grade econ teacher: When you enjoy writing an econ paper while still in pain from getting your wisdom teeth removed, you’ve probably found your happy place. Thank you for continuing to make economics seem painless and positive, even when the topics seemed trying and pessimistic.

To Dr. Ramnarain, my sophomore year econ professor: WHY DID YOU LEAVE SIENA, DON’T YOU LOVE US ANYMORE?!  (I’m happy for you, I swear)

Thank you for fueling my passion to save the world, for teaching me the ins and outs of how to convince business big-wigs that people matter more than the bottom line, and for reminding me to never lose hope in the face of adversity.

To Mrs. Gangemi, the ruler of the universe/best English teacher ever: Many people teach topics, but you taught us how to think, question, learn, be, and push our boundaries and comfort zones. And even when we no longer sat in your class, you poured us tea and took the time to help us see the universe in a whole new light.

You are my inspiration.

To Dr. Ellard: You were always afraid you had gone too far in class, but you never did. Every crazy theatrical explanation, analogy no one had ever heard of, and chicken (yes, a real chicken) you let into class made it all the more special. The world changed in my eyes the day I stepped into Environmental Ethics, and it hasn’t been the same since.

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With all these amazing change makers and world shakers in my life, OF COURSE I can conquer whatever comes at me, no matter what. And you can too❤

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Opportunity is knocking they say, time to increase R&D to drive growth and increase operations. Personally, a little terrified of this one. Innovation? SIGN ME UP. Industry? Ummmm, like how to make it cleaner? Because that sounds good. But more of it? No thank you. Infrastructure? How about trees, can we get more trees?

Of course I’m all for helping the third world develop, we have a responsibility to humanity. But we also have a responsibility to the planet and to ourselves to set the standard and precedent for green and humane growth.

That I can get behind.

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Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

CAN I GET AN AMEN?!

Income, age, sex, gender, gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic status…the list goes on and on…so find your passion and FIGHT FOR IT (peacefully please).

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And please, check your privilege at the door.

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Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

In 2030 it is predicted that 6 out of 10 global citizens will live in urban areas. But, in 2014 30% of urban dwellers were forced to live in terrible slum-like conditions. So, it’s safe to say we’ve got work to do.

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Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Needs vs. Wants people.

It’s that simple (or complicated).

We want a lot, and our wishes have left the world wasted.

Wake up.

Want to start small? Bring your own take-out containers for restaurants, store things in tupperware and ball jars instead of plastic bags and paper boxes, get crafty and upcycle!

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Stew on that, meanwhile, I need to start the soup for dinner.

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But with the right attitude…

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As long as we work together❤

 

Hugs from across the ocean❤

Live, laugh, love, bake,

Marley and Tea

P.S. Always give in to your wanderlust.

 

 

Ninjas Assemble

 

Today we were supposed to go in a cave. But upon arriving, we found the entrance boarded AND padlocked. When our professor showed us the three massive caved in spots, we weren’t totally surprised…

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It’s Webb’s birthday, so we tried to throw her in (That’s an appropriate present right?)

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(No one was harmed in the making of this photo)

Spending all of this time with wonderful new friends reminds me of all of the superbly amazing people I have back home, and how grateful I am for each and every one of them.

It helps to have friends going through the same growing pains and culture shock as you…which is one of the five-thousand four-hundred and ninety-two (ish) reasons I love Karina with all my heart.

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My favorite person, rock, and sanity is all the way in Jaipur, India, and I have no doubt that she will go on to change the world. I am beyond excited to see her smiling face next semester and finally be able to hug her (plus have a long night of tea and storytelling), because while FaceTime is great, it’s not nearly the same as hiding in a blanket fort.

Want to see just how kick butt she is for yourself?! Follow her supercalifragilisticexpialidocious blog: https://freespiritedyogini.wordpress.com/.

Then there’s Roshan, my first friend at Siena. She lives within the beauty of every moment, keeps me calm, and reminds me of the strength we have within us.

Over the summer we read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, together truly fitting as this year we are both embarking on our own version of the PCT. As she experiences the trials and tribulations of her first year of medical school (for which I am SO INCREDIBLY proud of and impressed by her), I am off wondering why it was dark AT 3PM here in Iceland?!

The point is, without her, I would not be where or who I am today. Even with miles and miles (and an ocean) between us, I feel her presence in my heart daily, reminding me to be kind and strive with all intention to make the world a better place.

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And of course, there’s my bunny, my day one, the one who made my adolescence the crazy, Harry Potter filled, crafting years of wacko that they were.

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It’s a generally accepted fact that she’s my sister, even our parents agree. If you’re lucky you’ve seen into her mind and know just how flipping fantastic she is, and that with her in  the world, things are bound to start looking up.

These three lovelies lead me to fantabulous Goal 5: Gender Equality.

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In 2014, 143 countries guaranteed equality within their constitutions, leaving 52 left to promise this basic right. And as we all know, just because it’s in writing doesn’t make it a reality (anyone remember “Separate but equal?”).

My part? My career. By being a part of policy making, I can be one of many (civilly) fighting against the backwards system.

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

If I forget to bring my water bottle with me ANYWHERE  I freak out, so I cannot even begin to imagine the anxiety of those living with poor quality and/or limited access to water. With only 3% of the world being fresh water, we really need to focus on our water resource management, and get creative with sanitation solutions.

Check out The Thirst Project for ways to help. (And if you’re a Siena Student, JOIN THE CLUB. If you’re not, start a branch at your university/school/in your town.)

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Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

1.1 Billion people live without ANY electricity (and here we are addicted to our outlets). And many of those who do have it, possess only a limited amount, and it’s dirty (oil, natural gas, coal). And then there’s us with electricity eating up our hours, wattage fueled by fossil fuels.

It’s time to think green.

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Thanks to the Union of Concerned Scientists  I’m learning to make changes  my life (this is me peer pressuring you to look too).

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

SO MANY THOUGHTS SO LITTLE TIME.

The word growth scares me lately.

Do I want everyone to be able to find meaningful employment? YES

Do I want all families to be able to afford life’s necessities? YES

Do I want the economy to be stable? WELL DUH I STUDY ECONOMICS SILLY

But growth…we’ve done a lot of bad things in the name of growth (which is why we need goal 7 now).

I’d like to rename this goal Meaningful Work Economic Prosperity in an Environmental and Socially Sustainable Manner. (Admittedly the long title needs some work)

I need to learn some more things before I can tackle this one. (If anyone has some ideas about how to insert about seven billion lifetimes of knowledge into my head, that’d be swell.)

Now that my brain hurts, I’m going to take a knitting break (I think the only thing in my suitcase coming home will be wool…I don’t really need clothes, right?). Then I’ll go back to world ninja’ing.

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Hugs to help you save the world❤

 

Live, laugh, love, bake,

Marley and Tea

P.S. Always give in to your wanderlust.