12 Step Program

by Bridger Frandsen

 

This isn’t your typical 12 step program on the road to sobriety. This is a set of guidelines to help you become a better you. Below is a list of principles that can help you change your life for the better. I myself have, in no way, mastered all of these, and I probably won’t anytime soon. Baby steps are the key to redefining who you are and who you want to be. I believe there is always room for improvement, and we should constantly be striving to better ourselves; whether it be financially, physically or mentally. I can’t promise that following these steps religiously will bring you the success you desire, but pursuing a few of them will, at the very least, make you see yourself in a more positive view.

 

Step 1: Educate Yourself.

This doesn’t mean you have to enroll in college and get yourself a degree. This means put down the remote and pick up a book. Reading creates mental stimulation and keeps your brain active. It improves your focus and concentration, and strengthens your analytical thinking skills. Likewise, reading can help expand your vocabulary, not only building your knowledge base, but makes you sound more attractive. What’s a woman going to find more appealing, that you have all 6 seasons of Lost on DVD or that you have a plethora of novels that you can damn near recite? Probably the latter. Another tip on educating yourself, follow the news. Not celebrity news that only reveals who Kim K is fucking, but global news. Know what’s going on in the world we live in. Follow CNN or the Wall Street Journal, keep up to date on real issues.

 

Step 2: Exercise

Working out shows discipline and that you care about your health and physical appearance. In addition, exercise releases endorphins in your body that trigger a positive feeling. This uplift in your mood will create a more positive outlook, stimulating a more favorable perception on life. Step number 2 doesn’t imply that you need to become Mr. Olympia, but going to the gym or running 3-4 times per week will increase your mood as well as the way you appear. Look good, feel good, right?

 

Step 3: Eat Right

Sure, Taco Bell is cheap and gives your taste buds an orgasm, but you have to take into consideration the health aspect. Likewise, McDonald’s breakfast is quick as you’re on your way to work or school. It can be a nuisance cooking every meal and having to do dishes, but benefits outweigh the chores. Wake up 30 minutes earlier and make yourself a healthy, filling breakfast; after all, it is the most important meal of the day. Even if you’re not hungry upon waking, it’s important to get that nutrient intake early on. For lunch, meal prep; making all your meals for the week Sunday night means less dishes and less hassle later in the week. Not only are you eating healthier, you’re saving time and money on fast food.

 

Step 4: Think Positively

It can be difficult keeping a positive mindset all the time, especially when times are rough. Difficulties build character, and they make you stronger in the long run. Regardless of your religion, I like to believe that God has a plan for everyone. What may seem like the end of the world now, often times turns out to be a blessing. You just have to grip the wheel tight and go for the ride, knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. An easy task to help keep you thinking positive, is to think of 3 new things each day that you’re thankful for. This relieves stress and helps you realize that there are positive influences in your life. Negativity can have a domino effect on you, you can’t be happy if you only see the bad in situations.

 

Step 5: Help Someone in Need

If you see someone with a problem, do what you can to help them out, and don’t do it expecting something in return; this will only make you frustrated if you aren’t compensated. Not only will this help someone, but will help you feel better about yourself. This isn’t donating your paycheck to charity, this is seeing the person on the road holding jumper cables, hoping for someone to give them a jump. We pass by people struggling every day, whether it’s a helping hand or a listening ear, lending someone your time can go a long way. You should look for ways to help others each day.

 

Step 6: Put Money Away

You may be in college and don’t have much funds as it is, or you may be working full time and have bills to pay. Regardless, it’s important to have a backup plan when life throws you a curveball. One of the most wealthy men in the world, Warren Buffet, said “Don’t save what’s left after spending, spend what’s left after saving”. Money left over from bills doesn’t need to go to shoes or the bar. Having money doesn’t mean you need to spend it right away, sure you can’t take it with you when you’re gone, but you don’t have to go broke “YOLOing”. If you’re going downtown, take a limited supply of cash, this eliminates that gut wrenching feeling of checking your bank account the next day. Open up a savings account, and put a fraction of money away every paycheck. Not only does this create a sense of security, but when a large investment comes along worth dumping money into, you’ll be able to do it.

 

Step 7: Don’t Procrastinate

Get shit done before it needs to be done. Saving tasks for the last minute not only makes the end result look like shit, but it’s far more stressful scrambling to get multiple things done at once. Get ahead so you can take your time. The relief of finishing something is far greater when it’s done in advance, then if a problem occurs you’re not left without any options. This step is easier said than done, especially when you’re working two jobs, going to school and just want to unwind. If you get in the mindset that you should always be grinding, you’ll find yourself more success. If you’re in school, pretend it’s a job. Give yourself a certain number of hours each day to devote to school work. Preferably on campus where there are less distractions. When a task arises, so should you.

 

Step 8: Live Tidy

They say a house never gets cleaned as fast as when a man expects a woman over. Why not just always keep your house and vehicle tidy? Whether you expect company or not, you shouldn’t be living in filth. Do your laundry and put that shit away, don’t leave it to sit on your bed and wrinkle. Do your dishes when you’re done eating, they don’t need to soak for a week. Clean your bathroom regularly. If you do happen to bring a lady home, she won’t be there long if she sees your bathtub scum. When you go to pick up a date and you open the car door for her, empty bottles or beer cans shouldn’t be falling out. Likewise, your backseat shouldn’t give the appearance that you’ve been living out of your vehicle. Keep yourself and your living quarters clean enough to be proud of.

 

Step 9: Dress to Impress

No, the clothes don’t make the man. You don’t have to wear a button up shirt and slacks. But dress everyday like you’re going to meet the girl of your dreams. You’ll feel much more confident in jeans and a long sleeve than you would in sweats and a hoodie. If you’re just staying at home by yourself, who gives a shit if you’re in a snuggie, but if you’re going out, wear something prideful. Granted, no girl is going to sleep with you just because you’re wearing designer apparel, but if you look good, your odds go up.

 

Step 10: Drink Less

Like I said earlier, this isn’t a sobriety program. Believe me, I know how to paint the town and I certainly do. But don’t be that bar rat that goes out three nights a week. Limit yourself to one night out a week, at most. This will help your health, your bank account, and your reputation. Sure, there’s a sort of limelight attached to a party animal, but they never go anywhere. It’s hard to build your success if you’re either drunk or hungover all the time. By cutting back on the booze, you’ll have a clearer mind and can focus on your goals. Take care of all your assignments or tasks before you decide to go toss a few back, then you won’t have to do it the next day with a headache.

 

Step 11: Set Goals

There’s no better feeling than achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself. Without a goal in mind, what are you really doing with your life? There’s no way to improve if you don’t have an idea of what it is worth improving. Whether it is to lose 20 pounds or save up enough money to purchase a new vehicle, know what it is that you want and strategize a plan to accomplish it. It’s important to set a deadline. There’s not much satisfaction in losing 20 pounds over 5 years, or buying that 2016 Silverado if it’s 2030. Setting a deadline gives you a sense of urgency, and the moment you decide what you want, gives you that drive to succeed. Goals are essential to success and improvement, without them we will just remain the same, indefinitely.

 

Step 12: Be Yourself, Be Confident

“Be yourself” may sound counterproductive when we’re talking about improving. What I mean is, be a better you, but make sure that it’s still you. You’re not improving yourSELF if you’re actually trying to be someone else. Make sure that while you follow these steps, you’re doing it for you, not for any other person. Don’t set a goal that will impress others, set one that will ultimately satisfy you. Improvement doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and patience, be confident and take pride that you’re bettering yourself. Changes are going to occur, without them you wouldn’t be moving forward. I will reiterate, be confident! What you think of yourself is far more important that what others think of you.

So You Wanna Be Rich: The Secret Behind Compound Interest

So You Wanna Be Rich: The Secret Behind Compound Interest

As adults, a lot of us have big dreams and aspirations when it comes things such as owning a home, driving a nice car, traveling around the world, etc. The media like to sells these ideas to us, but most of the time we find ourselves saying things such as, “If only my job paid more,” “If only I won the lottery next week,” “There is no way I could ever save enough to afford _____.” While these things would certainly help you achieve what you want, they are not the only solution! Most people, especially teenagers and young adults who are fantasizing about driving a Ferrari or owning a mansion, have a resource that is often undervalued, the resource of TIME. Now you might be thinking to yourself, everyone has TIME, why is time so important? It’s important because it is the factor that drives compound interest, a magical concept that people don’t take advantage of, and often do not understand.

Let’s look at the definition: The addition of interest to the principal sum of a loan or deposit is called compounding. Compound interest is interest on interest. It is the result of reinvesting interest, rather than paying it out, so that interest in the next period is then earned on the principal sum plus previously-accumulated interest.

Looking at that definition, you may be confused, and trust me, you’re not the only one. Let’s look at a easy example:

Say you have $100, and your account earns 10% a year, or simply: $10.

Now after two years, in theory you will have now earned 20%, or simply: $20.

However, you earn interest on the $10 from the first year, and that goes into the second year, so at the end of Year 2, you actually have: $121.

I know what you’re thinking, big deal, I made a whopping $1 extra over two years, which when you compare the simple interest ($120) vs compound interest ($121), is basically nothing. Look back at what you started with though, $100. In the two years, you made an extra 1%. At $100, an extra one percent is only a dollar, but if you have $1m, that extra one percent is ten thousand dollars.

The point of this concept is no matter how much money you start out with, the more you save, the easier building wealth becomes. If you look at the stock market from 1950 to 2016, the average return is about 7% a year. This means for every $100 you invest, you can expect to get about $7 back annually. Some people decide to not invest, and leave their money in a bank account. The average savings account at banks pays about .01%, or roughly ten cents per hundred dollars. This means investing, on average, pays 70x MORE than keeping your money in a bank account.

Still not convinced? Let’s spice this up just a bit more. A lot of investments will pay what’s called a “dividend,” which is basically just a reward that is given to shareholders based on company performance. Most dividends are about 1-3% a year, and are paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. Add this return to your average 7% return, and you could be getting upwards of 10% return on average.

Why is all of this stuff important? Refer back to the beginning where we talked about buying a house, car, traveling, etc. If you have $1m in investments, and your getting a 7-10% return, you can expect to earn between $70-$100k a year, without lifting a finger. Now a million dollars is a lot of money, how could you ever expect to save that much?! You don’t have to, in fact, you don’t even need to save half of that. If you start saving now, and let compound interest do its magic, you’ll see $1m is more achievable than people realize. And if you have TIME, that number could become much bigger…

If you’d like to start investing, companies such as TD Ameritrade, JP Morgan, Vanguard, or Scottrade are great places to start!

compound interest calculator:
https://www.investor.gov/additional-resources/free-financial-planning-tools/compound-interest-calculator

“Dear Daniel,”

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Dear Daniel,

I told myself I would stop crying after I got the call. I told myself I would stop crying as the words crashed like waves into my ears over the line. I told myself I would stop crying when I heard my dad’s voice crack as he told me you were gone.

I told myself I would stop crying as my feet stumbled across the weathered bricks and the rain sizzled as it kissed the hot tears that rolled down my face. I told myself I would stop crying while my fingers shook as they hovered over each number to call anyone to get me out of there. I told myself I would stop crying as I sat on the bone-cold bench waiting for a bus that felt like it was never coming. I told myself I would stop crying as I sat on the bus not giving a single care about the stares that danced on and off of my red and puffy face.

I told myself I would stop crying as my feet drug me home through the puddles and I fell into the arms of a friend. I told myself I would stop crying as I stood in the center of my room bargaining with God to bring you back. I told myself I would stop crying when my sister’s voice came across the line asking if I was okay. I told myself I would stop crying when my answer was “no”. I told myself I would stop crying when the thought that you wanted this kept screaming from the peaks of the mountains in my head.

I told myself I would stop crying as I dressed myself to sing the National Anthem at the basketball game with the choir, because that is what you would’ve wanted. I told myself I would stop crying as I held myself together, feeling completely alone in the middle of a stadium filled with 5,000 people. I told myself I would stop crying when I thought about how I will never be able to sit at the piano and beg you to play every song that came to my mind. I told myself I would stop crying when I thought about all the music we didn’t get to share and the songs that we will never sing together.

I told myself I would stop crying when the shower became my sanctuary because the hot water and the tears looked the same. I told myself I would stop crying when I found myself on the bathroom floor crippled with realization and grief. I told myself I would stop crying as I opened the door only to fall into my roommate’s arms. I told myself I would stop crying as the nights became suffocating and, just like you, sleep said goodbye.

I told myself I would stop crying as my parents frantically made plans to get my sister and I home. I told myself I would stop crying at 40,000 feet as I imagined reaching into the frozen clouds for you. I told myself I would stop crying as my lungs inhaled the wet pacific air. I told myself I would stop crying when, for the first time, I wasn’t happy to be home. I told myself I would stop crying as the dark and surreal ride home drug on, as if to physically delay what was already the inevitable.

I told myself I would stop crying as I walked into the house you grew up in. I told myself I would stop crying as I walked past the couch, where so many times before, everyone gathered to catch a good laugh from your contagious humor. I told myself I would stop crying when it hit me that I only cried when I thought about you now. I told myself I would stop crying as your sister fell into my arms violently sobbing as I blurrily looked up to meet the heartbreak that filled your mother’s eyes.

I told myself I would stop crying when your three-year-old nephew went up to your sister to feel for her heartbeat just to make sure hers hadn’t stopped like yours did. I told myself I would stop crying when I cut the stems of the dozen yellow roses that would grace the top of your casket the very next day. I told myself I would stop crying when they asked me if I wanted to see you one last time. I told myself I would stop crying as kept telling myself that that’s not you lying there; that you’re in a better place; that you’re no longer suffering.

I told myself I would stop crying as I walked into the church and fought to hold in the sobs that struggled to escape my throat when I saw your picture sitting by itself on the stage. I told myself I would stop crying as I walked up to practice singing with your accompaniment for the first time, never thinking only one of us would be present for this moment. I told myself I would stop crying as I struggled to sing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ because, all the while, I was wondering how would my heart go on without you here.

I told myself I would stop crying just long enough to sing the song with you and for you, in front of the three-hundred plus people who showed up because they loved you. I told myself I would stop crying when I was wishing that you would’ve realized just how many people were in your corner, but now they all live with pain in their hearts from your absence. I told myself I would stop crying as your voice carried through the air in song and your whole life unfolded in videos and pictures before our eyes.

I told myself I would stop crying as we fought the crying sky to go and say our last goodbye. I told myself I would stop crying as I was handed one of the freshly-cut yellow roses. I told myself I would stop crying as I my hair stuck to my face with rain and tears; when there weren’t enough tissues and my feet were paralyzed, unable to move forward. I told myself I would stop crying as I walked unsteadily up to your casket so my yellow rose could join the others. I told myself I would stop crying as my fingertips grazed the blue paint that had an unsettling shine.

I told myself I would stop crying when little reminders of you popped up in everyday life, and when I would hurry myself to sleep so that you might visit me in my dreams. I told myself I would stop crying on what would have been your 31st birthday.

Then one day I couldn’t hold back any longer. I told myself to cry. I told myself to cry for your pain. I told myself to cry because I am in pain. I told myself to cry because “some things in life cannot be fixed, they can only be carried”, and that’s okay. I told myself to cry because I loved you. I told myself to cry because every tear is a testament to that love. I told myself to cry because I will feel better.

I told myself to cry when I went back to where you lay and laid down beside you as I watched the sky turn shades of pink and orange through blurry lenses. I told myself to cry as I dusted the fallen flower petals off of the granite where your name is neatly carved. I told myself to cry because I was angry. I told myself to cry because I was sad; because I am sad.

Dear Daniel, these tears are for you; every single one. Not a day, not a minute, not a second goes by that I don’t think of you, that I don’t wish this was all just a bad dream and it will be all over when I wake up.

Dear Daniel, I know that I have to love you enough to let you go, but the years God granted us with you will never be forgotten or taken for granted. I’m happy that you are no longer suffering and that pain doesn’t exist where you are now, but down here the deepest pain is felt.

I tell myself to cry because I miss you.

Daniel Heath Kennell was born on February 3rd, 1985. He was a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin, and a friend. He was the star of his high school basketball team, an entrepreneur, a musician, a jokester, and a DJ. He was a smile on the face for anyone that knew him.

Losing Daniel is a wound that will never truly heal. This letter outlines every moment of grief from my first-hand account in the tragic loss of my beloved cousin. There are good days and bad days. These words have taken ten months to get out, but they are written in hopes to continue healing and in the hopes that they might help others to not feel so alone in the absence of a loved one. Through my grief, I found it so hard to let down my guard and fully feel-out my pain because I was afraid to cry. Through it, I had to learn that it’s okay to be vulnerable; that it’s okay to cry.

If you or someone you know is battling with depression or suicidal thoughts and you need help, in the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Know that you are not alone.

Sorority Life: On the Real

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When most people think of a sorority they think of the typical Hollywood movie and all the stereotypes that come along it. Basically, you think of pillow fights, drama, parties, and a house full of stuck up, pretty girls. Honestly though, what else are we supposed to think when our only perception of sorority life is determined by what we see in movies. Prior to going through recruitment myself, I felt the same doubts and experienced the same misguided thoughts about the entire system. Thankfully, after much persuading from a friend, I decided to give recruitment a chance and the entire meaning of the word “sorority” took on a whole new life.

Perks of joining a sorority from an inside perspective:

Campus and Community Involvement

One perk of walking into a house comprised of seventy diverse and accomplished women is that each woman belongs to at least one additional club or organization, whether on campus or in the community. It’s easy to join organizations when you know someone who can show you the ropes or give you suggestions on how to get involved. Plus, there’s always philanthropy and community service tied to membership, meaning sororities actively contribute to their communities through volunteer work and fundraising.
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Academics

Constantly being surrounded by women who hold themselves to high academic standards can definitely be scary at times, but ultimately those standards encourage members to set elevated goals and strive to improve academically. Grades are important, that’s why we’re in school right? I personally think being in a sorority makes keeping grades up just a little bit easier! Plus, you always have a study buddy!

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Leadership Skills

A lot of Greek houses operate similar to a business in that there is a suite of officers made up of elected members. These opportunities for leadership enable women to break out of their comfort zone, as well as learn to work with multiple different types of personalities. The house is student-run so making decisions affects the entire chapter and that responsibility contributes to preparation for real world situations. It’s basically like a giant family. I mean they refer to sorority girls as sisters for a reason, they share clothes, argue, laugh, cry and act like officers are their mom’s away from home at times! Which is honestly how it should be!

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Community

The Greek Community is pretty close in that I almost always know someone from Greek Life in my classes or student groups. It’s nice having a network of people that automatically have something in common with you. It’s pretty cool walking around campus seeing a familiar face on almost every corner.

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Relationships

One of the craziest opportunities presented to sorority women is the chance to live with their chapter. In my case, I live with 34 women, I know, call me crazy! Really though, living with these women has allowed me to connect with with them and grow with them. It’s the casual encounters that are the most memorable, like the countless times I’ve been caught up laughing in the kitchen until 1am or having ridiculous conversations with girls who stopped by my room because they heard laughing. Not to mention the spontaneous midnight ice cream runs and random shopping trips I can never seem to say no to.

The point is, the friendships are made through the everyday experiences that come from being a member of something bigger than just an organization. Yes, living with 34 people can be trying at times, I’d be insane if I denied that fact, but honestly the benefits widely outweigh the trials. I know that regardless of what I’m going through, whether that’s a breakup, family troubles or the general stresses of daily life, there will always be someone there to keep me going. I’ve met my best friends through my sorority and developed friendships with so many amazing people. Joining Kappa Alpha Theta has been the best decision I’ve made throughout my college career and it’s an organization I’m proud to be a part of. The reality is sororities aren’t all matching outfits and themed events, they’re about building up members, developing friendships and belonging to an organization who’s impact lasts a lifetime.

Shoutout to all my sisters that have made my college experience one for the books!

Have you ever had an interest in joining Greek Life? Are you Greek and have a fun story to share? Comment below!

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Life lessons from unexpected places

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Just over a year ago, I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma as a new member. I never intended to join a sorority, yet after being part of this organization since last fall, I know that my life would not be the same without Kappa. After transferring to UofM last fall from a really small women’s college I was looking to find a similar sense of community and support that I experienced during my first two years in college. To my surprise, I found all of those qualities and so much more. Since joining, I took up an office, joined two committees, and moved into a house with 30 other women. I’ve learned countless lessons, made lifelong friends, and have incredible memories in just one short year. Here are a few of those lessons I have learned:

Be grateful for the memories you’ve made in college, once you graduate and enter the “real world” wearing pajamas five days a week and living off a diet of pizza and bagels is no longer going to be normal life.

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How to take an Instagram worthy candid picture, even if you have to almost drop your friend to get the perfect shot. roommate-pic-2

Your friends really are the family you chose, the best ones stay up until 3am laughing and telling crazy stories, but will also be there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on or to help you know when it is time to let go.

Be comfortable in your own skin, regardless if you’re wearing onesie pajamas or a formal dress.

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Always be curious, keep an open mind, and give people a chance to surprise you. Sometimes, the best of friends come from unexpected people.

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Pizza is always a good idea. There is always someone to justify ordering Jimmy John’s with you at midnight or willing to drive you to pick up an Oreo milkshake from Five Guys. Eat the dessert, it’s good for the soul.

You can never have enough glitter…

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and lastly, true friends will stick with you through the good times and the bad, they’ll be there to encourage your dreams and to pick you up when you fall. There is not a day that goes by when my sisters don’t make me smile or help me see the silver lining in an otherwise unfortunate situation. Even though I’ll graduate next Spring, I know that regardless of where I am in the world, Kappa will always be home. 14124503_1190069591045418_6517434229970450447_o

By: Kelsey McCauley