UNREVISED

betrayed by myself

ripped in two, stabbed

then, slowly,

pulled apart

tendon

by

tendon

(is this grief)

 

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Vulnerability is,

perhaps,

the hardest to comprehend.

It is the ultimate paradox:

to be strong you must be weak.

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Sometimes i want to stop caring.

How others feel.

If they like me.

What they think.

How i come across.

Whether i am wanted.

But being wanted is like needing air.

Our humanity, much like our physicality,

demands certain necessities.

Air.

Water.

Food.

Love.

To crave love is synonymous with existence

To push aside our nature

Our desire to be loved, wanted,

is to eliminate our emotionality

at its most basic sense.

As if to say, “here is the day”

without the sun.

‘Just Eat Air’ Is The Gist Of The Whole30 Diet, And It’s Making Diet Culture 30 Times Worse

*article originally published on The Odyssey Online*

In a world of diet boomeranging, Whole30 is doing way more harm than good.

I am vehemently against the Whole30 diet. Vehemently.

Every time I hear someone say they want to begin it, I restrain myself from having a very adult and NSFW hissy fit. No, really.

Like most diets, the Whole30 is a fad that will come and go. The website says it is a cure-all diet “designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract and balance your immune system.”

I’m going to go ahead and call BS on this one, and I don’t even have to try the diet to say that. And trust me, I will NEVER be trying this restrictive jumble of lies.

Here are some other claims listed on the Whole30 website:

“This will change your life.”

“It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food.”

“Food freedom.”

We’ll unpack all of that, but first, here is what you CANNOT eat on Whole30: sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol, MSG, sulfite, carrageenan, baked goods, junk foods and treats. That’s a lot, but there’s even more within those categories.

Within sugar, you cannot have maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, any artificial sweeteners or date syrup. (How the hell do you have anything yummy?) Under alcohol, it states that you cannot even use it for cooking and that you should refrain from tobacco (even though that’s not alcohol…).

Here’s a doozy: In grains, you cannot eat wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn (even though it is a veggie), rice, gluten-free things or starch products from the above. YIKES.

No legumes. That means beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and peanuts. That’s right, no peanut butter either. Oh, and this also includes soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame and soy sauce.

No dairy means no cheese, cream, milk, yogurt, kefir or ice cream.

And the “junk food”…don’t even get me started on that phrase. Actually, please do get me started. It’s a good rant. This means you can never eat pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies, pizza, cereal, chips, fries and so on. I just wrote a book on all the things you cannot eat while on this “diet.”

Oh, and the best part, here is the mantra of the diet: “When in doubt, leave it out.”

It would have been a heck of a lot easier to state what you can eat: meat, fruit and veggies. That’s it.

So basically, you can eat air.

Aside from the laundry list of things you can’t eat (which I can sum up very easily: anything enjoyable), there are so many other issues with this trend.

It’s restrictive. It makes going to restaurants impossible. It basically means tossing out all your previously purchased food once you start. It eliminates all the food categories that give you the energy to function. It removes a huge amount of variety and vitamin sources.

Worst of all, it takes all the joy out of eating.

A huge problem with diets, in general, is the list of “cannot eat” foods. When your body cannot have something (meaning, you put it on a “bad” list), you cannot satisfy the cravings you have for these types of foods.

Craving something cold and soft? Something like ice cream? Too bad, it’s on the bad list. Better have some carrots instead. Because that totally fits the craving.

And what happens when you don’t satisfy a craving? You have it even more. Trust me, I know from experience. (I’m looking at you, anorexia.)

This diet is basically an eating disorder waiting to happen.

When I was deep into my eating disorder, I basically ate like this, only with the exception of dairy. At that time, a good ten years ago, a diet like this was called “Paleo” (and that one is BS, too). I lost weight, for sure, but I also felt like I had been repeatedly thrown against a wall. Even getting up required too much energy.

When you pull out TONS of food groups, you label those foods as bad and unhealthy. You restrict what you can eat. In no way, shape or form is this “food freedom.” It’s food hell. It’s purgatory. It’s literally anything but freedom.

Now, some people could do this and not end up with an eating disorder. But if there is even a little environmental or genetic vulnerability for an eating disorder, this would be a great catalyst for activating it.

As for changing the emotional relationship with food… see the above. If everything becomes off limits, any slip up in the diet would come with guilt, shame and anger.

That is NOT emotional freedom. So yeah, it will change your relationship with food. Badly.

Here’s another issue: When you remove things like grains and beans, you remove readily available sources of energy for your body. If you want to exercise, a great pre-workout snack is something starchy, like a granola bar, because it is easy for your body to digest and use as energy. If that source isn’t available, say goodbye to your energy and hello to a whole host of other problems.

When I didn’t have energy from starches, my body ate my muscles. Seriously. It started to eat itself. That is something I will never be able to fully recover from.

Any vegetarians out there? Well, not for long if you’re planning on trying Whole30. Go back and look at the do not eat list. All of the non-animal sources of protein are on there. No beans. No tofu. No peanut butter. Guess you are going to eat veggies, fruit and seeds for all of eternity. As a vegetarian myself, that sounds like hell, even loving fruit and veggies as much as I do.

Oh, and one last thing. Whole30 is continuing the horrible habit that calls food good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, clean and whole. Food does not have these values. To say a food is bad or good gives it a power it should never hold.

Food is nutrition. It is a source of energy. It is not good or bad.

All foods fit in moderation and balance. Our problems do not stem from eating a cupcake. Our problems come from eating a cupcake and then beating ourselves up over it, labeling it as bad and telling ourselves we’ve failed. A cupcake is not the enemy here. Society is.

Where is the intuitive eating trend?

Where is the diet that tells us to honor our body signals and what sounds good?

Where is the diet that DOESN’T label any food as good or bad?

Oh wait, that wouldn’t be a diet. That would be just eating, intuitively, honestly and in tune with your desires.

Stop contemplating eating air with Whole30. Do your body, brain and soul a favor and pick up intuitive eating.

That’s true “food freedom.”

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals. 

xoxo

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I’ve Got Incomplete Classes, Yes, But My Mental Health Still Comes First

*article originally published on The Odyssey Online*

For most people, summer is a time without coursework, tests and classes. Not for me. At least, not this year. I have two incomplete classes to finish in addition to my summer class. And you know what? That’s OK.

Before this past year, I had never taken an incomplete in a class. I was always the “perfect student,” getting my work done *mostly* on time, making good marks and staying up until the wee hours of the morning to study or finish a project. I was good at school. It was my “job,” and I did it well.

At least, until last semester. This past spring, I did something a bit… unusual. I put my college success behind my mental health.

If you really think about it, staying up until 3 a.m. to study for an exam, working 5 hours straight per day on coursework, not sleeping, not eating properly, stressing out all the time… it’s not healthy. It gets the job done, so to speak, but at the expense of our well-being, whether we realize it or not.

For years, I didn’t realize it. I didn’t even consider how unhealthy and detrimental these habits could be. But after getting my mental and physical health back on track during a gap year between my freshman and sophomore year (yes, I am supposed to be a junior, but I am a year behind, and that’s OK too…), I stopped thinking all of the crazy measures we go to for an “A” would fit neatly into my life.

There is an unspoken competition on college campuses: Who can get the least amount of sleep? Who is the busiest? Who was up the latest working? Who is taking the most credits?

It is unhealthy. It puts what really matters — mental health — aside.

The truth is, your grades in college don’t matter. No, really.

They don’t matter nearly as much as your mental well-being.

They don’t matter nearly as much as taking care of yourself appropriately.

Your grades in college mean nothing if you are not able to function because of stress, anxiety or exhaustion.

I may have had to take incompletes, but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be nearly as stable in my mental health as I am now.

I still have depression spells. I still have anxiety and feel overwhelmed. But I don’t work through the night on studying or projects like I used to. I sleep. I eat food. I get fresh air. I drink water (because you cannot live off coffee, as much as I tried…and sometimes still try to).

I may have incompletes, but that doesn’t make me a failure.

I may have incompletes, and that is totally, completely, 100 percent OK. Because I am putting me first. For once.

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals. 

xoxo

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A Slip Is A Lapse, But Not A Relapse.

*article originally published on The Odyssey Online*

With any recovery, the path is never straight. It might be pretty even for a while, suddenly dip down, turn to the left, or hit a steady incline. Some periods are going to be trying. Some are going to feel simple. There are so many factors in life.

Many events, experiences, surprises, etc. will influence a recovery path. Sometimes, they can all get to be too much to handle. Sometimes, they can make you struggle a lot with maintaining recovery. Sometimes, they can make you slip.

But, a slip doesn’t have to become a relapse.

Often, when times are tough, it is hard to distinguish the difference between a slip and a relapse. But they are very different. I always describe a slip as a lapse. It is a pause in the usual recovery schedule. A relapse, on the other hand, is reverting back to pre-recovery behavior indefinitely.

To use my own recovery from anorexia as an example, in a slip, I would realize that I counted calories but I would not continue to do so. I would work to become more intuitive and ignore nutritional facts.

A relapse, on the other hand, would look more like preoccupation and obsession with the nutritional information when choosing and eating food amounts. It would disregard hunger and focus on numbers. A relapse would be more “severe,” so to speak.

Slips a hard. They are discouraging and often something for which one feels shame. I struggle a lot with my slips. I beat myself up and I get frustrated and often feel like I am failing.

But, the truth is, I am not failing.

My struggle is valid. My frustration, too, is valid. Slips are annoying! Anything that isn’t smooth sailing is bothersome. But it is normal, expected, and definitely not shameful, even if it feels like it.

This true, not just for me. Your feelings are valid. Your experiences and struggles and frustration are valid.

To be in recovery does not mean to be perfect. It does not mean you never encounter times when it feels hard to continue. Perfection is not real. Perfection is not attainable. Imperfect is beautiful and natural and expected. To hold yourself to a standard of perfection is to set yourself up for a feeling of failure.

In approaching slips, I find it helpful to remind myself that it will pass. But, I also have to remember that my struggles will not pass without work. I cannot be passive in my recovery, in general, but especially when rebounding from a slip.

Getting back on the course is work. It is something I must be mindful of and commit to doing. I cannot just wait for it to get better. In fact, if I do just sit back, it will likely get worse.

I do not say this to be discouraging but in the spirit of full disclosure. Brutal though it may sound, recovery is never easy. Slips are no different. But they do not have to become relapses. It is our attitude and approach that can make the difference.

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals. 

xoxo

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​17 Raw Ruminations From An Adult Tonsillectomy Survivor

*article originally published on The Odyssey Online*

Tonsillectomy… the thing that brings to mind vivid dreams of being able to eat only ice cream with a very valid excuse. Bed rest, lots of yummy frozen dessert, pudding, and sleep. Wonderful, right? Wrong. Especially as an adult. Everyone I spoke with before mine said that the recovery would be horrible. I would be in lots of pain. It would take forever… As you can see, they were all very encouraging.

But what is it actually like? Here are some (brutally honest) thoughts I had throughout my recovery.

1. “Oh, that wasn’t so bad!”

After I woke up from the anesthesia, nothing hurt too much. They were wrong! The adult tonsillectomy would be fine. I was fine… oh, wait. Why does my voice sound like that? Did I dream them telling me to think of a happy place? I have no idea where I am. Ha, I’m all tingly.

2. “Damn… I want some Cookout.”

For those who are unfortunate and don’t have any Cookout restaurants around you, it’s this incredible place were a big milkshake is around $3.00 and they have tons of combos. And about 20 minutes after waking up and being told I would be able to leave, I wanted one. Badly.

Unfortunately, my milkshake did not want me… I didn’t believe the doctor when he said I might not want dairy (it causes mucus production), but, boy! was he correct. So much for that lovely vision of ice cream for every meal!

3. “Oh my gosh. I can’t talk. What am I going to do! I need a white-board.”

About five hours after my surgery, I realized I couldn’t talk without it hurting… Maybe this wasn’t going to be as easy as I first thought.

4. “This pain narcotic is making me feel sick!”

The pain medication you get after a tonsillectomy is strong. It’s brutal on the stomach because you can’t eat any solid food so it isn’t absorbed as well and it makes you feel super queasy. It was horrible. But really necessary. I tried to take only Ibuprofen and I had to start the narcotic again because it was too much pain, and I have a super high threshold! You want to nap a lot, because then you don’t feel the icky stomach turning and are not as cognizant of the pain.

5. “That was the worst sleep I have ever had.”

Hate to break it to you, but you are going to sleep really badly for the next week to week and a half! Yay! Throat pain!

6. “WHY IS MY THROAT WHITE!”

If you are anything like me, or, really, if you have any little ounce of curiosity in you, you’ll probably look in the mirror and see what your throat looks like. Guess what: it looks super gross!

7. “I kinda feel like I am choking… all the time.”

Yep. This is a constant thing for about, oh, as long as it takes to heal. Your uvula swells and it hits your throat and that makes it feel like you are choking. For me, I constantly thought I had something stuck in my throat—or rather, the holes where my tonsils used to be.

8. “WHAT FOOD CAN I EAT?!”

Bad news… basically none. I lived on mashed potatoes, pudding, popsicles, and smoothies (made without dairy) for the first 7-10 days. Actually, I should have done that. But I tried to force some harder things and that went horribly. Don’t be me.

9. “Is it over yet?”

I wish… I wish…

10. “What is that smell? I brushed my teeth…”

Oh yeah, here’s the great part! Your breath smells like a dying animal for a while! Because your throat is now scabbed over and those scabs might start to fall off, your breath smells horrible. Brush your teeth as much as you want, it’s not going away.

11. “How could this possibly get worse?

Just wait. Day 7-10 is the absolute worst. This period of time is when the scabs on your throat start to fall off. Don’t worry, you can’t feel them! I thought I would feel them when I swallowed, but I didn’t even notice. It is probably because it hurts like hell to do anything since the throat is now raw and any sort of food or liquid makes it sting. Yes, even water.

12. “Why does my tongue hurt, too?”

When I went to my post-op, I was convinced my throat was infected and my surgery had gone wrong because I couldn’t eat or drink anything without wincing and my tongue hurt SOOO much. Nope! The muscles in your tongue are sore too because of the healing process and the way you hold your mouth when you adjust to the pain. The more you know.

13. “Wait, what about my ears? Why do those hurt so much?”

You know how your nose, throat, and ears are connected? That’s why. The nerves in your throat that got all messed up from the surgery are affecting your ears. The ear pain was, in some instances, worse than the throat pain, for me. This is when those horrible pain medications don’t seem so horrible.

14. “Water keeps coming out of my nose!”

Ah yes. Thank you to google for explaining to me that this was normal. Nasal regurgitation is a part of a tonsillectomy. I don’t know why. But it’s annoying.

15. “I think I need a nap.”

I napped around 3-5 hours a day. Healing takes a lot of work! Also, I just really like my bed. But mostly, I couldn’t stay awake.

16. “Was this worth it?

I had this thought a lot, especially through the really painful bits. But I kept telling myself yes, because it got me through.

17. “Am I done yet?”

As I am writing this, I am on day 12 of my recovery. One side of my throat still hurts a lot. But I am sleeping through the night more now! So yes, you will eventually be done. Just maybe not yet.

The verdict: you are in fact a survivor when you have an adult tonsillectomy. Don’t let someone tell you it is an “easy” surgery. It’s not. The recovery is super hard and you are going to want someone there to help you through it. But, in the end, if it keeps you from getting sick so much, you should probably go through with it — especially if your doctor says to! It sucks. I relate. But you can complain about it all you want. And then rant to internet strangers in a snarky (but honest) article about it, like me!

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals. 

xoxo

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7 Ways To Deal When You Have That ‘Bad Body Image’ Day

*article originally published on The Odyssey Online*

We are all going to face some days where you just don’t want to look in the mirror. Self-love and appreciation can be incredibly hard during times like these. But do not fear! Here are a few things you can try when you are struggling to appreciate you!

1. Put on some really comfy clothes.

Your favorite leggings and sweatshirt, a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, even a dress. Anything that feels comfy and good for you. Sometimes, though, you want to avoid baggy clothing on an already bad body image day. See what works for you!

2. Pamper yourself.

Turn your home into a spa for the day. Focus on spa activities that feel good but don’t emphasize appearance too much. Paint your nails, do a face mask, take a bath with bubbles and wine (only if you are of age) and a good book!

3. Make a list of things your body can DO.

List out all the things your body does for you on a daily basis. Think what it DOES not how it looks. If you can’t think of anything, go back to basics! Your body lets you live by breathing, etc.

4. Journal.

Seriously. Sometimes putting what is bothering you — exactly as it is bothering you — out on a page is so relieving. It takes the jumbled thoughts and makes you see them a bit more clearly. Often, it is easier to challenge the thoughts when they are physically on a page in front of you.

5. Eat what you crave.

If you can, make your favorite meal. Whatever it is. If you like mac-and-cheese, make it. Want ice cream for dinner? Have it. Just because you don’t love your body today doesn’t mean you shouldn’t honor hunger.

6. If you need to go out, put on an outfit you have always felt stellar in!

Wear whatever that one outfit is that literally makes you feel like gold. I am giving you permission to take it out of the dirty laundry pile, if that is what you need to do. Because feeling good in what you are wearing — especially on a bad body image day — can help a lot when going out into public!

7. Remind yourself that your bad body image day will pass.

We all have them. It is normal. How much we like what we look like is going to fluctuate. But learning to appreciate our bodies anyway, even on the bad days, is the basis of self-love.

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals. 

xoxo

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Exercising Is About Loving Yourself, Not Punishing Yourself

*article originally published on The Odyssey Online*

“Ugh, I had too many cookies. I will have to go to the gym for hours later.”

“I ran three miles, so I can have this ice cream.”

“I worked out a lot this week, I can eat whatever I want.”

“I cheated on my diet yesterday. I have to go work it all off today.”

“I would love to have some of that dessert, but I didn’t work out today.”

Do any of those phrases sound familiar?

If one or more does, I am so sorry. I’ve been there. I know how horrible the constant guilt, work-out, repeat cycle truly is.

Exercise mindsets centered around food and dieting and working off what was eaten are unhealthy. They are dangerous and cyclic and a recipe for disaster.

But they are also the norm. They are promoted by society and normalized by peers.

You can find references to “magic” workouts on magazines. Exercise fads are almost as insidious as diet trends! They are discussed almost constantly.

Seriously, I dare you to go a day without hearing (or mentioning) working out, dieting, food or guilt around something you ate.

But, would you like to know a secret?

Exercise. Is. Not. A. Punishment.

Exercise isn’t something you do because you think you had one too many cookies.

It isn’t something you do because you want to eat a certain way later.

It isn’t something that gives you permission to “let loose.”

Our society treats exercise like the end-all-be-all of what you can and cannot eat. It is the magic permission slip for dessert. It is the go-to for guilty thoughts and fixing that cheat meal.

(Oh, and those cheat meals… those are bullshit, too.)

Food is not good or bad or healthy or unhealthy. (It’s all about that moderation!)

Food is not something you earn.

Food is not something you compensate for with hours on hours of time at the gym.

Let me tell you something. I used to think that food was all of the above. I logged hundreds and hundreds of miles running. I worked out all the time.

I was miserable. I had an eating disorder that constantly told me food was bad. And I punished myself with exercise.

And now, years later, in recovery from my eating disorder and months and months away from compulsive exercise, I look around me and I see the same unhealthy relationship with exercise everywhere.

I hear it in conversations I pass on the street or floating around the air in cafes. I watch it in the monotonous strain of those who attend the college gym with a pained, dead look in their eyes.

It’s not healthy.

But, as I have started to add exercise back into my life, I have redefined my relationship with it.

Exercise. Is. Not. A. Punishment.

Exercise is something you do because you have lots of energy and you want to move.

Exercise is something you do to relieve stress…and not the stress that comes from feeling like you ate something you “shouldn’t have.” (Shouldn’t have really doesn’t exist, unless, for example, you are lactose intolerant and had a lot of ice cream…)

Exercise is something you do to appreciate all that your body is capable of achieving.

Exercise is something you do because you feel strong and powerful and fierce.

Exercise is something you do to enjoy the outdoors and the fresh air.

Exercise is something you do only when you can enjoy it.

Exercise is something you do because you enjoy it.

Let me say it again… Exercise. Is. Not. Punishment.

Trust me, I have used it as one. The other, enjoyable, self-fulfilling, side of the exercise spectrum is a lot more fun.

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals. 

Stop Worrying About Your ‘Perfect Summer Body’ And Just Enjoy The Weather

*article originally posted on The Odyssey Online* 

As it warms up and winter clothing *finally* starts to withdraw into the back of the closet, discussions about body appearance move to the front hangers. ‘Tis the season for ads promoting how to get the body you want before summer and different diet trends to help you get rid of those last few pounds.

Feeds start to fill with alluring “body goals.” Promises re-emerge to take up that New Year’s resolution to hit the gym that you dropped on January 3. I sound sarcastic, but honestly, it’s OK to not go to the gym or drop those pounds!

And that’s the point.

Magazines, friends, commercials, etc. all say it’s time to get in shape before you hit the beach.

But, you don’t need to.

You don’t need to have abs and trim thighs and sculpted arms to be seen.

You don’t need to look like you work out every day to be worthy of space.

You don’t need to be a certain way to dress in shorts, skirts, a bathing suit, something that shows your legs or your form.

And anyone who says you do is wrong.

You can tell them I said that. Please do.

Society and (especially American) culture send messages basically saying to be worthy — of love, belonging, respect, space, time, empathy, etc. — you need to be a certain body type.

To be worthy, you need to look worthy.

But worth does not lie on the skin. As cliché as this is, “beauty is not skin deep.” (I honestly have no idea who said that, but they were/are correct and I give them mad props.)

Someone who looks different than you is just as worthy of love as you are.

We, and here I mean society as a whole, because, like it or not, we who disagree with thin ideals are part of society too, judge so much on how we look and what we wear that we forget the object of the judgment is a person too.

A person with feelings and dreams and desires who just wants to love and be loved.

Who cares if you have some shape to your stomach and you like to wear bikinis?

Who cares if you don’t have super thin thighs and you sport shorts in the warm weather?

Who cares if you have scars, stretch marks, birthmarks, acne, etc. and you don’t try to hide them?

If you answered “I care and it bothers me to see” to any of the above questions, it’s time to reevaluate your values because you just defined someone simply by their appearance.

What a petty thing to do.

In the spirit of full disclosure, when I read the questions I wrote above, I think: “I care if people think that about me.” But you know what, that’s OK and, honestly, to be expected.

Society conditioned me to care what people think.

Society conditioned me to think I have to hide my flaws.

Society conditioned me to think I have to work out and look a certain way in order to take up space. (When did exercise change from something we do to alleviate stress to something we do to punish our bodies for the way they look? But, that right there is a different article for another week.)

Society conditioned me to think if I don’t look like a model, I can’t love who I am.

As hard as it is (for me too), I challenge us both to let go of those fears — if only for five minutes — and wear the shorts, the bathing suit, the outfit that doesn’t hide every flaw.

I challenge us both to drop the ridiculous standard we hold ourselves and others to in the spirit of just enjoying the world.

I challenge us both to view our bodies not as the enemy or of something to be ashamed, but as a means of exploration of the places around us. Of the vehicles that allow us to laugh, smile, hug, play sports, lounge on the beach, swim in the water and soak in the light.

Because, in the end, whether we look a good in a bathing suit is not the memory to look back on when we are older.

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals.