Animals are the Best Teachers

I’m a strong believer that every animal has at least one lesson to teach us on our journey. Here are the lessons I’ve learned so far.

Dogs: Dogs love you on your worst days. Dogs love you on your best days. Dogs love you when you yell, cry, laugh, or a combination of all three. Dogs appreciate every little thing you do for them and are the most loyal creatures we can ask for. Dogs absolutely love unconditionally. If I could change anything about dogs, I would lengthen their too-short life span without a second thought. Dogs unfortunately showed me true heartbreak. They become our best friends and a true part of our families, but they all have to leave us too soon. Dogs taught me that grief is the price we pay for love.

Cats: Cats are complex animals with complex lessons. First, I need to clarify one thing: there’s a huge difference between regular indoor cats and BARN cats. I’ve only had barn cats in my life, so I can’t write about the fluffy, declawed, clean, indoor cats. Barn cats are tough. Tough to keep alive, tough to find, tough to micro-manage. When I was little, I was continually devastated that I couldn’t smother them with love. I had a lot of barn cats. The two toughest were (by far) Luigi and Stereo. There were both black and big and ruthless. They tolerated me. As Stereo grew old, he got away from killing gophers and rabbits. He settled with killing only a few mice a day. After a while, Mom started letting him in the house. He became fond of the fireplace and became an indoor/outdoor cat (my dad will deny this.) Cats taught me that it’s okay to be tough and it’s okay to change your life and it’s definitely okay to be alone.

Chickens: If you read my first blog, you know I believe chickens are the spawn of Satan. They taught me how to run, climb fence at record speed, watch my own back, and how to forever fear something that’s 95% smaller than me. Chickens, (roosters in particular) are mean and I’m pretty sure they take pride in this. They’re pompous, rude, and did I mention mean? However, if you grew up on a ranch you know there’s really no escaping chickens. All of the other animals on the ranch started to seem pretty freakin’ nice compared to the chickens. Chickens taught me (although I was reluctant to learn anything from them) you have to live with the bad to appreciate the good.

Fish: Everything dies, or does it? I’ve had a goldfish for 10 years. 10. I won him at the carnival, but he was kind of a burden on the rides so I put him down in the shade. When I came back a few hours later, he was no longer in the shade. The bag was scalding hot and he didn’t look so good. I took him home and put him in my aquarium. He was apparently fine because it only took him a few days to eat all of my other fish. After about a year, my mom told me I had to get him out of the house because he was weirdly big and creeped her out. After a while of struggling with ethics and personal moral values, I decided to dump him in the horse trough on a really cold day. I remember this because I was pretty sure he was going to get belly-up within a few hours. He didn’t. Unfortunately, he’s still alive and well and won’t die. Ever. He swims kinda crooked and turned pure white, but he seems as happy as if he had good sense. His name is Carni.

Horses: My friend Codi Uecker once summed up the most important lesson horses were able to teach me over the course of 22 years. She wrote, “I think about all of our successes and all of our failures. It never mattered which occurred, just that we did it together. The number of failures we earned only made our time of triumph that much greater.” This is how it always has been and always will be. Always.

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Run into Washington-Grizzly Stadium with the Griz

Thousands of fans pack Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday’s for game day. The stadium, which is known for it’s noise has received accolades from players, coaches, and ESPN announcers. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo told ESPN that Washington-Grizzly Stadium was the loudest environment he had ever played in. So, what does it feel like to play for the Griz and run out of the tunnel into one of the best atmospheres college football has to offer? Watch this 360° video to find out!

Have a VR headset? Use it to feel like you are running out with the team!

*Watch on a desktop or the YouTube App for the 360° effect!

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Thanks for watching!

Natural Teeth Whitening Secrets Revealed

How to Whiten Teeth and Improve Oral Hygiene 

Coffee. Beer. Tea. Wine. All wonderful indulgences that, while making life a little more productive and fun, take one hell of a toll on our teeth.

There are endless treatments, gels, strips, and washes that claim to do the best job at keeping your teeth white and your mouth clean. Their claims may be true but can also be expensive and harsh on your gums.

After using Crest Whitestrips for an extended period of time in my younger years, I found my teeth were exponentially more sensitive to heat and cold and when I took a hiatus from them to re-build the enamel, my teeth didn’t stay as strong, nor as white. I also noticed that my gums were red and swollen for a few minutes after taking them off from extended use. Not good.

Mouth washes, like Listerine, are filled with harsh alcohol that overtime can dry out your mouth which creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Not good.

So, I looked into alternatives and developed a regimen to keep my teeth white, my gums healthy, and my mouth clean and free of toxins that stick from eating and drinking.

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Activated Charcoal

Possibly one of the best multi-use products to have around the house. It works by absorbing toxins and gasses into its tiny pores to pull them out of something. In this case, your teeth.

After brushing with regular toothpaste, floss your teeth to create space for the charcoal to clean your teeth and gums from all angles. Next, dip your brush in the charcoal and brush for two minutes. Be careful, this stuff is messy but typically does not stain most surfaces or fabrics.

Rinse your mouth well with water to make sure you have cleaned all the charcoal out before the next step. (Note: it is not harmful to swallow the activated charcoal. Many people take this in capsule form as a dietary supplement.)

You can purchase bulk activated charcoal here.

Coconut Oil-Pulling

Ah, coconut oil. The holy grail of all purpose home supplies. I have used this for years as lotion, in my coffee, for cuts and scars, and now for teeth whitening and dental hygiene.

After you have brushed, flossed, and brushed again take 1 tablespoon of raw coconut oil and swirl it around your mouth for 15-20 minutes.

This is a great practice to do in the shower as you cannot talk or open your mouth for the time that you are oil-pulling.

Oil pulling gets its name because the coconut oil works to pull toxins out of your mouth and leave you with healthy, strong teeth. While this is a practice that I have recently started, oil pulling is said to date back to 5000 years ago.

I encourage you to try this regimen and guarantee within a week you will see a huge difference!

Doing this will also keep you from getting sick and will overall improve your health and wellness.

Happy Healthing,

Niki

Why Everyone Should Watch The Office

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One of my favorite shows of all time is The Office. I’ve watched all 9 seasons way too many times to count, and here are the reasons why I think every person should at least give it a try.

The Office is a mockumentary style show that documents the daily life of employees at Dunder Mifflin, a paper company.  Most of the criticisms I hear about The Office have to do with the slow start to the show, and I agree it takes a while to get into to. However I think that slow start allows the watcher to really understand and get to know all of the small nuances of each character.

The first time I really sat down and watched it, it took me until the 5th season to really fall in love with all of the characters, but when I fell I fell hard. I either hated or loved every single character and I still wanted them all to succeed. That being said if I had to itemize every reason why you should watch the office It would take forever and a much longer blog post, but I can highlight some of the most important ones.

  1. The Character Development

Michael Scott is far from the worlds best boss. He starts as a fairly selfish person who clings on to those who he thinks are ‘cool’, while ignoring and mistreating those who actually care for him. He looks for love based on all of the wrong reasons, even going as far to stay with an abusive women because she got a boob job. Eventually Michael sees the error of his ways (sort of). You may start off hating him but you soon learn that he really is a good person deep (deeeeeep) down.

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“I’m not superstitious but… I am a little stitious”

Its not just Michael who evolves as a person though, everyone goes through some kind of transformation. Whether its Jim finally realizing he has more potential than just being a sales man, or Ryan finally ‘mastering’ commitment, each character changes and grows just like every real person. The fact that its not just the main characters who evolve really speaks to the level of detail and forethought that the writers put into the show.

Not only does Michael evolve as a person but he leaves Dunder Mifflin after almost 19 years for the only fitting reason: finding his soul mate. This brings me to my second point; The love stories.

2. The Love Stories

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“When you’re a kid you assume your parents are soulmates. My kids are going to be right about that.”

You have the obvious stories of office romance. Jim Halpert the lazy salesman and Pam Beesly the smart, funny, and cute reception is one that gets started right away in season 1, but it takes them FIVE SEASONS to actually do anything about it.

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“Holly Flax, marrying me will you be?” “Your wife becoming be will I”

Then you have Michael  who proposes to Holly after a being a part for so long. Luckily we are 100% sure that they are soul mates. They are literally perfect for each other in every way right down to the bad Yoda impressions.

Without giving too much away there is also a secret affair that leads to one of the most perfect weddings in history of television (purely my opinion) which makes me sob every single time. Romantic love is not the only kind of love stories though. The friendships made throughout the season both on screen and off are one of the more moving parts of the show. Co workers who otherwise would never be friends become the best of friends and go above and beyond for each other. Image result for dwight and pam cryingDwight, the socially awkward beet farmer who constantly reminds everyone that they are inferior to him, shows that he truly does love and care for them and even goes as far as calling Pam his best friend.

There is also those who find families, one finding the parents she never knew, another finally having the child she so desperately wanted (however questionable the circumstances were).

Not only I am so invested in the show and its characters that its an emotional roller coaster for me (I cry at pretty much everything though)  the humor is what makes me stick around, and elevates it beyond any other show that i’ve watched.

3. The Humor

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“It’s Halloween? That is really good timing.”

Now the humor in this show is definitely not for everyone, it is subtle and if you aren’t paying attention you could miss it. It doesn’t come from just the main characters either. Personally I think the funniest characters on the show are the background characters. Creed, the creepy quality assurance director has some of the best quotes of the show. It is heavily implied that he is/was into some pretty hardcore drugs and other illegal activities. He always seems out of it and says seemingly random random things that the other characters don’t get, but under closer inspection may just be his confusing interpretation of the world around him. He’s smart though and finds ways to keep his job even though he doesn’t actually do anything and sells company property for his own personal benefit.

The other character that I think has some of the best lines is Kelly Image result for kelly kapoor business bitchKapoor. She’s zany, she’s not easy to manage and her new years resolution was to get more attention. She is definitely not PC and that’s what makes her character so funny. Her whole story arc is not about rising up the corporate ladder, but finding love with a guy who is arguably more self absorbed than she is (a pretty big feat).

Of course who could forget about the pranks Jim plays on Dwight. Like the time he put his stapler in jello, or put his desk in the bathroom, or put all of his desk items into the vending machine, or the identity theft prank (identity theft is no joke), or the time he Meatball’d him, or the time Pam and Jim Image result for asian jim pranklearned Morse code so they could talk about Dwight in front of him, or my personal favorite when they hired an actor to pretend to be Jim and convince Dwight that Jim is Asian.

I think the point of this show isn’t to be over the top, or to be side splitting-ly funny. I think the point of this show is to make a connection with the audience. These characters are all real people with real faults, that everyone can relate to. You can see yourself in the situations they are in and sympathize with them. You’re either rooting for or against them, but every time I watch it, it comes to an end all to soon. You have been with these people through all their triumphs, failures. heartbreak, and joy. You see into the most personal part of their lives and you become a part of it.

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them”

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5 Things You Thought You Knew About Studying Abroad in Europe

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I’m going to go ahead and make a biased, totally un-researched assumption right off the bat: every person who has studied abroad would describe the experience as “life-changing.” I can make that assumption with unwarranted confidence because that’s the only way most people, including myself, can capture everything in an accurate phrase without boring the person who asked. “Life-changing” is the only way we can describe riding a time machine to Rome or standing where a queen once stood or being overwhelmed with the immense diversity that’s crammed into such a small area of the world. “Life-changing” is also the only way we can talk about living where no one knows you and finding your truest self by hanging out with strangers (who eventually become your best friends).

Unfortunately, describing a study abroad experience as “life-changing” is also one of the most cliché ways to go about it—and it’s not the only cliché about studying abroad that needs to be examined a little closer. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, or maybe just avoiding homework, here are some common misconceptions to be aware of:

  1. Studying abroad is just for rich kids.

Studying abroad is definitely more expensive than staying put, but I trust that most people can make it work. Let me break it down by using the University of Montana as an example: UM is partnered with over 50 international schools in about 25 different countries, which means that you can pay your tuition to UM while studying at a school abroad. So, if you choose a partner program, you’ll probably only have to budget extra for travel and living expenses, which can also be supplemented by a wide variety of scholarship opportunities if you play your cards right.

Plus, once you get there, traveling around the area is surprisingly affordable – plane tickets can be around 50€/round trip if you’re savvy and hostel reservations are even cheaper than that.

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  1. Studying in Europe = 6 months of non-stop partying

It’s true that almost every European country you visit is going to say they’re the best at making and drinking some sort of alcohol (I was in Germany, so, naturally, they loved their beer). That being said, however, there’s actually a lot to do over there besides partying – while I was abroad, I spent most of my time exploring different countries, going to all sorts of events in the community, hanging out with friends, and even volunteering at a local refugee shelter. And partying, of course.

Plus, there’s a cool old church around just about every corner if you ever get really bored.

  1. You’ll make tons of local friends.

Locals tend to hang out with themselves, so meeting and befriending them can be a little challenging. The good news is that you immediately get tossed in with a huge group of international students who are also looking to make friends for the next six months or so. It’s like a freshman year in the dorms all over again!

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  1. You’ll be fluent in that one language by the end of it.

Clearly this depends on a lot of factors, including your prior knowledge of the language and the region that you study in. Top three phrases I
recommend prioritizing, no matter the language or level: “Excuse me,” “Please,” and “Can I pet your dog?”

  1. You don’t actually study when you’re studying abroad.

I studied considerably less, but I still had to keep up with it. To generalize, the European education system differs from the American one majorly through class structure and expectations. Most people I’ve talked to agree that classes have less consistent evaluations (i.e., homework), meaning your final grade basically depends on your final exam. However, that also means you’ll have more free-time during the semester to do some experiential learning, like actually living your life in Europe, instead.

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As an obvious disclaimer, not everyone will have the same experience that I did. Some people will party with their local friends for all six months, speaking the language fluently, blowing life savings on crêpes and seafood, and not showing up to class until the last week – and they’ll probably have a freaking awesome time doing it.

As cliché as it sounds, studying abroad changes lives – but you’ll never know how it can change yours until just get on the plane and go.