Just Get Started

I’ve wanted to start and maintain an active blog for a while now. I’ve spent many days and evenings pondering over the theme, the purpose, the content, the layout, and the name. Some days, I’d think I was getting close to really diving in, only to hear doubtful thoughts creep in, saying, “Will anyone read this?” or “Is this a good idea?” or “I’ll start tomorrow, I’m not ready today.” All of this mental back-and-forth, I finally realized, was wasting precious time.

Although it is important to solidify your goals and figure out the details, too much idle time is counterproductive. I needed to be learning through doing and creating, not by playing it out perfectly in my head.

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A few days ago, it dawned on me how much time I’d lost by not getting started. WordPress greeted me with a “Happy 2 year anniversary!” announcement, and I couldn’t believe it had been that long. How many posts did I have now, maybe 10 and another 10 in drafts? If I had written just 1 post per week, I’d have over 100 posts by now. They might not be the greatest, but it would’ve been something more substantial than what I have now. I’ve decided not to waste any more time; I’m going to start my goal of having an active blog and start now.

No matter your goal, it’s important to just begin. You won’t be a pro at first. You’ll learn as you go and you’ll learn by doing. Sometimes, a goal can seem daunting and lofty and you’re not sure where to start – that’s how I felt with this blog. Make a list and break the larger goal down into small pieces. I recently bought a planner that says on the front cover, “Dream Big, Start Small.” What great advice!

Sometimes, when I’m feeling discouraged and as though my goals are out of reach, I look at where other people started to help me refocus. I’ll scroll through the profiles of my favorite Instagram accounts: The ones with 100,000 followers and perfect, well-edited pictures. Usually, there’s a beginning at some point, and sometimes it surprises me when I see those old, grainy, average photos begin to appear on the feed.

Remember, everyone has to start somewhere, but the key word is start. 

No More Plastic K-Cups

I believe in the importance of small steps when it comes to living a more eco-friendly life. Sometimes, making changes too drastically or depriving yourself too much leads to overindulgence later. Consistent progress in the right direction is my method.

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Each month, try to remove something unsustainable from your grocery list. You can either do without the product or replace it with something more eco-friendly. The best way to tell companies what you’d like is to vote with your wallet! Support companies that you agree with and pass on products that don’t align with your sustainable efforts.

This month, try removing plastic K-Cups from your grocery list.

Why? According to an eye-opening article by Elif Koc, about 9 billion K-Cups ended up in landfills last year. Nine BILLION. I can’t even wrap my head around that number. The Atlantic estimates that this many K-Cups could circle the entire planet 10 times. That’s an incredible amount of plastic waste.

In addition to being environmentally harmful, K-Cups are also really expensive. In her article, Koc estimates that the amount of coffee you actually receive in a tiny K-Cup would retail at $40 a pound.

I do love my single-cup coffee maker, and I understand why people love K-Cups. I think a good compromise is to use a reusable K-Cup with your favorite ground coffee inside. It’s convenient, there’s much less plastic waste, and it’s affordable.

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Reusable single-serve cups, such as mine pictured above, are available at most retailers in the coffee aisle.

I have reached out to Keurig on Instagram about K-Cups, asking them if there is a sustainable alternative coming in the near future. Much to my surprise and appreciation, they responded that they were working on a more eco-friendly cup. Hopefully that will be available in stores soon!

Gratitude

I read an interesting article the other day: it discussed the habits of happy people versus the habits of unhappy people. One of the big factors in feeling happy in life is a sense of gratitude; the more grateful people were, the happier they tended to be.

Days slip by quickly sometimes and I don’t always remember to be thankful. Also, it’s often easier to focus on what’s going wrong, rather than what’s going right, thanks to the negativity bias of the human brain. How can we make more time to be grateful with such busy lives?

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Build a Routine

Take a few minutes each day to reflect on the many beautiful things in life. It’s an easy practice you can incorporate into your everyday routine, such as right before bed or right upon waking. It takes only a few minutes and it will refocus your brain to have a more positive outlook.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Write down a few things (or even just one thing) you are grateful for each day. It could be a person who helped you that day, a random act of kindness you witnessed, or a situation that didn’t go wrong. On a day you’re feeling down, reference the journal entries for an instant mood refresh.

Retrain Your Brain

After making gratitude a habit of your everyday life, you can actually retrain your brain to focus on the positives, instead of the negatives, that happen each day. Once you start to make this outlook a habit, your brain will begin to automatically search for what’s going right. All it takes is a few minutes a day!

It’s almost guaranteed that something positive happened to you today. What was it?

Kinzua Bridge State Park

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

I’m not sure who said that, but my visit to the Kinzua Bridge State Park definitely filled my “excited fear” quota for the day!

Kinzua Bridge State Park is located in Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania. It spans 329 beautiful acres in McKean County. I’m not usually too fearful of heights, but this bridge overlook admittedly made me feel a bit dizzy. I had to walk at my own pace while Alan and Maddie took the lead.

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The Kinzua Bridge was built in 1882 and was once described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” It was 301 feet tall, over 2,000 feet long, and made of wrought iron. In 2003, a tornado whipped through the area and destroyed 11 of the 20 bridge towers. For me, seeing the collapsed iron supports still laying in the valley was the eeriest part of the visit. It was a sobering reminder of the sheer force of nature and it’s no wonder it was featured on the television show Life After People.

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The mangled, collapsed supports are still laying in the valley where a tornado struck in 2003.

The overlook is beautifully created from the original bridge with the tracks still intact. The end of the overlook has a very cool clear floor where you can see to the bottom. I was surprised Maddie walked onto the glass, but then again, she does follow Alan everywhere!

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After exploring the views from the overlook, we headed down to the Kinzua Creek Trail that lead beside the bridge and down into the valley. It was amazing to hike the valley so close to the fallen structures.

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I would highly recommend the Kinzua Bridge State Park for anyone visiting the area. I loved how the park was a mix of adventure, excitement, and history. Seeing this fallen architectural marvel was an ominous reminder of the power of nature. It’s an experience I know I won’t soon forget.

For more information, please visit the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.