Uncategorized, wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Bodies Alive

Today’s Wellness Wednesday is a little different than usual. While we’ll still be talking about the human body, it’s not in the way you may be expecting.

This Sunday I was at the Museum of Science in Boston/Cambridge (the museum is actually split between Boston and Cambridge) and I got to see the Body World exhibit and it was amazing!

I went to see Bodies: The Exhibition when I took anatomy in high school and now that I have taken two more years of anatomy I feel like my appreciation for the human body and traveling exhibitions has only grown.

One thing that really amazed me about Body Worlds was that it was educational beyond just the bodies. They had rooms dedicated to different body systems and would include education about how to remain healthy through diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices in each section. As someone who just learned about workplace ergonomics one of my favorite parts was the video about adjusting posture while sitting at a desk and a model about proper lifting technique. I may be on summer break but it was a great way to review some key concepts from last semester!

A section on cataracts. I had no idea Monet and Degas both had problems with vision and it was interesting to see what they saw vs what they painted.

My favorite part of the exhibit besides being able to look at the bodies was the section on centenarians. Body Worlds featured a few people who have made it to 100 years old and had them speak about their lifestyles. While diet and exercise was mentioned, they centenarians also talked about their role in society. One woman discussed how important it was for her to be able to still be an active participant in her life, she still volunteers in her community and spends time with friends and family.

I had to feature this one on the blog! Mobility is medicine!

When you leave Body Worlds you can pick up a chip and pledge to make a lifestyle choice that will improve your quality of life. I was happy to see “exercise more” had a ton of pledges but since mental health is just as important as physical health, I pledged to stress less.

“Eat less sugar” was another popular one and if we weren’t in peak ice cream eating season I may have put my chip there…

But let’s get to the good stuff! The bodies! They are preserved through a process called Plastination and were absolutely amazing. It’s no secret I am a huge nerd when it comes to this kind of thing but they were breathtaking. You could see each of the muscles so clearly and the bodies were posed in such interesting ways, I could go on and on.

It wasn’t just the bodies that were on display, they had the nervous system and plastic replicas of the heart and all of it’s arteries and veins. The nervous system had to be the wildest thing for me because I was able to just stare at the brachial plexus I had learned about in class and look at in our cadavers but there it was laid out in front of me connected to all of the other nerves in the body.

I know not everyone may want to actually see the bodies so here is your warning: the donors are below!!

Could you imagine being the person to set this up?

That’s it for my review of the exhibit itself but I encourage you to keep reading below and learn about how these companies get the bodies. It’s an important discussion to have so let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Something important to keep in mind when looking into these types of exhibits: where the donors come from. In our anatomy class our professor mentioned that while these traveling exhibits are informative they don’t always get their bodies in the right way. Body Worlds’ donors come from people in Europe and the United States who have agreed to donating their bodies to medical students and the general public to learn from. Body Worlds is even stricter with their donations now after discovering some of their bodies were coming from Russian human trafficking rings. In an interview with NPR the founder of Body Worlds said, “What I certainly never use for public exhibitions are unclaimed bodies, prisoners, bodies from mental institutions and executed prisoners.” The key phrase here is public exhibitions. The founder of Body Worlds has admitted to selling unclaimed bodies for educational purposes. These bodies come from Chinese medical schools and have no written confirmation.

Bodies: The Exhibition is another story. The spokesperson for the company openly admits the bodies on display are unclaimed. The founder of this traveling cadaver company used to work with Body Worlds and then created a rival. This is the exhibition I had seen in high school and while it was one of my favorite field trips I had ever gone on, knowing that these bodies may not have been acquired in an ethical manner makes me cringe. But at least they are honest about not being able to verify who was donated to them.

So what can you do with this information? Weigh the options. Both companies have some shady deals going on, whether it’s the bodies they display publicly or sell to medical schools they both obtain bodies in an unethical way. If this is something you are really interested in seeing you just have to decide if you’d rather look at the bodies that were donated or if you are okay with seeing bodies who were not willing but the company is upfront about the means of getting them.

All of the information on donors to Body Worlds and Bodies: The Exhibition came from two NPR articles from 2006. While it is older information, this is the most trustworthy website I could come across.

I’m a huge quote person so I loved that there were quotes about life scattered throughout Body Worlds.

That’s all I have for you this Wednesday! Stay tuned next week for a more traditional Wellness Wednesday post!

xox,

Marissa

Advertisements
What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: Pursuits Unknown

Always carry a book in your bag! It gets you through long rides on the T and the long wait for your food.

 Today I am sharing my first book review from BookSparks! I shared in June that I was accepted as part of the #booksharks team and now I get to share my thoughts on the first ARC I have received!

I was instantly intrigued when I read the description. While science fiction isn’t my go-to I often think I can communicate with my dog telepathically so it seemed super interesting. The description also mentions a disease called “Disorientation” which is much like Alzheimer’s and I thought a human/dog search team that goes after missing people seems like it would be right up my alley. Add in the fact that one of the people who goes missing is a famous scientist and I was hooked.

While I enjoyed the storyline, the narrating style wasn’t for me. I felt like I was coming in in the middle of a series, it’s a science fiction/alternate reality kind of story and at the beginning I had trouble figuring out what kind of world we were living in. It was also difficult to keep the characters straight, I had a similar feeling to the third Crazy Rich Asians book where there is a lot happening and I need to take the time to remember who everyone is.

However, this was a really quick read. I feel like I flew through it! The story was compelling and I was intrigued the whole way through to figure out what the answer was. There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle to be fit together but overall it was a good read.

Reading the author’s note at the back I discovered she wrote this as part of NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month was something I had taken part in when I was in high school and I loved that that’s where this idea was born.

Overall, I would say that if you love dogs, science-fiction, a good mystery, or any combination of the three this book is worth picking up. For me it was more of a stylistic thing that didn’t match up for me so it’s worth a try! You’ll never know if you don’t pick it up!

Happy reading! Let me know what’s in your TBR in the comments!

xox,

Marissa

wellness

Wellness Wednesdays

Hello friends!

I am starting to bring Wellness Wednesdays back! As a physical therapy student we spent so much time during the spring semester talking about health and wellness promotion and getting people active. The CDC says adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week. Since I am a group exercise instructor I wanted to share some easy workouts with you guys that can be done at home.

As a group ex instructor I see the value in creating a community to exercise. If I don’t head to the gym with a plan sometimes I leave feeling like I didn’t accomplish too much. However if I plan to take a Zumba class I know I will show up and work hard. So even if you aren’t going to the gym to do these workouts definitely reach out to see if a friend wants to join you. Having other people to help you be accountable makes it a little easier.

Easy ways to incorporate moderate-intensity exercise into your day:

  • Walking/jogging/running around your neighborhood. If you feel like you don’t have time to set aside to do this, try walking to your errands. The post office and the library are about two miles away from my house, so some days I end up walking there. You can also run there and then walk back once you’ve picked up your stuff!
  • Find YouTube videos of exercises you want to do! If you don’t have a gym membership or feel like you can’t make t to the gym on a certain day check to see what’s available on YouTube. Here are some of my favorites: POPSUGAR Fitness has great Zumba and kickboxing classes. BohoBeautiful has an awesome 21 Day Pilates Challenge that I wrote about awhile back. Alo Yoga is always posting yoga videos and mindfulness challenges to their channel. And The Fitness Marshall is my absolute fav! He has fitness dance classes to popular songs. This is something that my whole freshman year floor did together all the time so it always brings back good memories. My favorites are: Dessert and 7 Rings.
  • Bike around your neighborhood! If you live in a city and need a bike you can probably rent one! Most cities have bike sharing programs now and in Boston you can rent one for $2.50 per half hour!
  • Find out what’s being offered! Now that summer is here, there are a ton of discounts floating around. You can try a new yoga studio for $30 for 30 days, or you can see what’s offered. A lot of parks will have free or super cheap exercise classes just to get people outside!

Here are some workouts I’m planning to share on the blog soon!

  • Barre
  • Yoga
  • Abs
  • Track/Bleachers

You can find out more about the guidelines the CDC has for different groups here!

Have a healthy, happy Wednesday!

xox,

Marissa

College

The Most Important College Lessons

The week before my freshman year I was in the Happiest Place on Earth reading an Odyssey Online article about the most Magical Place on Earth. Yes I was sitting in the Animal Kingdom Lodge looking at giraffes and reading an article about Springfield College that went viral, even among students who hadn’t had orientation yet. I still remember reading that article and being so excited, fast forward four years and I can confirm it is the other most Magical Place on Earth.

But I’m not here to tell you about why you should choose Springfield College. If you wanted that speech you should have come on one of my tours! Instead this is going to be what Springfield College taught me.

Spirit, Mind, and Body: Keep it balanced people

At Springfield College we are always throwing around upside down equilateral triangles. Why? Because all of those traits are equally important and if one outweighs the other, the triangle is just going to fall over.

But even at a school where everyone agrees finding balance is important, it doesn’t always happen. Some Sundays I felt like I had no time to go to church. We had one mass every Sunday at 4pm and some times I just felt like if I did go I would sit there for an hour and make mental checklists of everything I had done and everything I still needed to do. So instead I listened to my “If Not Me” playlist or I found some podcasts like Catholic Stuff you Should Know and The Christian Feminist Podcast.

That being said some semesters I was so on top on my faith. I even became a Eucharistic minister during my time at school. The priest at my school has been so supportive of us. He takes the time after mass to get to know us and he came to a number of my dance shows. He even showed up to baccalaureate with presents for the seniors!

As for the mind aspect, if any category got priority it would be mind. I mean it was college. Keep in mind that while you are in school, your grades are not the most important thing! Focus on learning what you need to but do not get caught up on being the best. Much easier said than done but two years from now, when I’m treating a patient they really aren’t going to ask me what grade I got on the third kinesiology exam.

And body, this one can get swept under the rug too. Between teaching yoga and dancing I am pretty active but I definitely did not hit the gym as much as I have when I wasn’t taking grad classes. But I have a few easy fixes for you.

First, read your notes on the bike. I’m not really into spin but sometimes reading on the bike was really nice. This also works for the elliptical but my eyes cannot focus on a piece of paper when on the elliptical. Another solution: record yourself reading the notes and then listening to them. One of my friends did this and shared her recordings with me and now I could study on the elliptical! Then I started making my own!

DISCLAIMER: In the spirit of keeping your triangle balanced, do not study at the gym unless it’s midterms/finals week! You deserve an hour to yourself!

Your People Will Find You

Senior Suite 406

One of the scariest things about starting at a new school is making new friends. I was in the unofficial Facebook group (that’s where Allison and I kinda met, kinda not, but that’s a story for another time) and Quad (an app for students to meet each other) and I was so worried about finding my people.

Lucky enough for me my best friends were all on my freshman year floor. The girls I lived with for the next three years mainly came from the third floor of Reed Hall. While we met a few more people throughout the year, our friendship started in the common room when we watched Disney movies every Friday or Saturday night.

When I gave tours at school one of the my most frequently asked questions was “What’s been my favorite memory so far?” This was definitely a tough one but I always had to explain that there’s not one thing, but it’s all the little things. One story I shared with people happened my junior year when I was with three of my roommates in our suite. One of our roommates had said, “Maya aren’t you making popcorn?” a little too late and as soon as Maya opened the microwave smoke came out. So the three of them were on top of our counters, opening windows, and fanning the smoke away from the detector because no one wants to be those people. You may be asking what was I doing? I was sitting on the couch, laughing, and filming the whole thing. It’s such a silly thing but in my opinion, those moments mean the most.

You are Your Own Biggest Advocate

Memories, my senior piece and the perfect ending to my time at Springfield College.
Photo is not mine, it was taken by our school’s photographer!

No one is going to look out for you like you can. And no one knows exactly what you need like you do. I’ve learned how to advocate for myself in a number of ways over my time in college.

The night before we graduated a few of us were sitting on the green. And someone was asking the greatest thing you did in the past four years. We went around the circle and when it was my turn I said my greatest accomplishment was taking my mental health seriously. To be completely honest, I’m not sure where that came from because I never really talk about the fact that I go to the counseling center unless someone else brings up that they go or it seems like someone should go and I tell them as a “hey there’s nothing wrong with going”. I’ve never had a problem with asking for help when it comes to getting a tutor so I don’t know why I had viewed counseling as any different. It all goes back to the previous lesson, keep your triangle balanced! If you need to talk to someone there’s no shame in that.

I’ve also learned how to advocate for myself with professors. It may seem scary because they are in a position of power, but no one is going to double check the grading rubric to make sure everything was scored right. If it is that important to you, you need to address it because no one else is going to lose sleep over it. Even if nothing ends up changing, you can go to sleep knowing you did all that you could.

Now I’m not saying your teachers don’t care about you. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing teachers my whole life and teachers really do put their heart and soul into your education. What I am saying is that everyone makes mistakes and if you have questions ask them! There’s no such thing as a stupid question, remember?

Here’s one last story about staying true to yourself. Our dance club has feedback sessions for all of the pieces in the spring show. Hear me out, getting feedback is not bad, it can be a helpful process but in my experiences it can also change the piece in a way that wasn’t the original intention. This is because feedback comes in two forms subjective and objective.

Subjective feedback is personal. It’s the “I appreciated…”, “I wonder what would happen if…”, or “I thought…”. While objective feedback is “You guys weren’t together”, “Your toes weren’t pointed”, “Your legs weren’t straight”.

I personally hate subjective feedback. While I can appreciate hearing about the moments that stuck out to people or the moments that didn’t feel quite right, that doesn’t mean I should change what I have created because someone didn’t get it. The application of feedback is tricky because each person views dance through a different lens, so how can you ever appeal to everyone in the audience? You. Can’t.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “Okay what’s the point?” The point is do not let anyone’s opinion change you if it is not a positive change. If their opinion does not help you grow, let it go. You cannot appeal to everyone, and the only person you need approval from is yourself.

And that’s it! Not all of the lessons I learned at Springfield, I didn’t think you wanted to hear about the convex-concave rules for joint mobilizations, but these are some of the most important lessons. Springfield College has shaped me into the person I am today, and while I will have student loans for years to come, the lessons were priceless.

xox,

Marissa

What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

I just finished The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and I knew I immediately had to start writing my review. There was so much in this book that I knew if I let myself fall asleep tonight, I would miss something.

While this book doesn’t quite earn five stars from me it comes pretty close. The main reason this book doesn’t get five stars- I’m selfish. I didn’t like the ending. Well, I liked the true ending and I saw that coming but what had happened a few pages before was too much for me. I don’t even know why it hit me so hard, I understand wanting to protect your own family but at the expense of another family? It got under my skin.

But let’s get to the everything else that is jam packed into 380 pages. There a lot to unpack in this book so let’s start with the dedication. Before the book even started Reid dedicated the book to her daughter and wrote “Smash the patriarchy, sweetheart”. With that I knew this was going to be a good read.

And smash the patriarchy she did. While this isn’t a true biography there is word going around the internet that it is loosely based on multiple early movie starlets. Hugo started life in New York City and dreamed of being a star. She had no easy way to get out of the city so she did the only thing she could think of- she used men. A common thread in this book is that Hugo gives men what they want as long as she can get what she wants.

It is a call to action of sorts. Now I’m not saying we should all move to Hollywood and make movies topless, it seems like they have enough of that, but rather that we should all be unafraid to ask for what we want. If we all had the confidence of Hugo, girls really would run the world.

Another huge part of this book that I was completely unaware of when I picked it up was the LGBTQ+ content. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo shows the hard reality of the 1930s if your dream wasn’t to get married, have two and a half kids, a dog named Spot, and a white picket fence.

Overall this book touched a lot of gray areas. People that aren’t fully good but cannot be described as evil. Characters that felt stuck between two worlds, not white enough for one but also too far away from the culture they want to call their own. There’s even a little medical gray area thrown in there, with the moral debate- do I stop it or was I trusted to let it go.

While the first few chapters went by slow, and by husband five I thought how could we possibly get through two more, I would definitely recommend this book. It is the perfect summer read, once I reached the 2/3 mark in the book I knew I had to power through the rest of the book because I had to understand.

Let me know what you think of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in the comments below!

Happy reading!

xox,

Marissa

Style

The Teal Sweater

You probably recognize this sweater from every photo I posted around Spring Break. What started as a cute sweater at my favorite consignment store on the Cape turned into a lifesaver in Florida.

It was the perfect sweater for the transition into spring.

We left the Cape and headed straight to the airport to visit my cousin in Florida. We’ve only been to Florida at the end of August so we were not prepared for the weather that was about to hit us when we reached MCO.

Who knew Florida could be so cold?!

I had packed these ears to wear with the matching dress but it was rainy and cold. It probably would have felt warmer if it was cold at home but the weather in Florida and the weather in Massachusetts was pretty much the same.

Meet me at the boardwalk

The next day we went to Animal Kingdom to see my cousin at work and it was sunny! So I went for the cropped leggings that somehow matched my new sweater. I threw on an orange tank top underneath and halfway through the day I was able to take off the sweater and feel like I was actually in the Sunshine State.

On our last two days there the weather had finally warmed up and the sweater was left in the room. I did keep with the teal trend though.

Stay stylish!

xox,

Marissa

College, Style

A Very Lilly Graduation Weekend

Hey hey hey! It’s my first post as a college graduate! I wanted to share what I wore for some last minute ideas for anyone heading to a graduation in June.

Up first is Baccalaureate. At our school Baccalaureate is a senior run program and it’s a chance for students in our class to reflect on their experience at school. At first I didn’t even think I needed to pick out an outfit for Baccalaureate because I was going to be dancing in it.

Oh hey look it’s Allison from peoniesandpilates

As much as I loved the purple costumes, it didn’t look quite right hanging out of the bottom of our robes so I picked another purple dress.

All Lilly everything

I was actually about to put on a black dress and then I realized I had the unique opportunity of getting my grad cap to match my dress.

A grad cap decorating post is coming soon!

While my dress isn’t available on the Lilly website anymore, I have linked a similar style here. The Mila shift is a little more form fitting than the dress I wore but it has the bows on the side!

Embellished Amber Lynn Sandal

On to graduation!

For graduation I wore the same white Lilly I wore when I graduated high school. In high school our robes were white so we pretty much had to go with a white dress but I thought it was just such a perfect dress that I had to wear it again.

The only problem? I’ve only worn it a handful of times since then but it actually started to yellow a little bit. The only thing I could think of to fix it was OxiClean, I kept hearing Billy Mays telling me it was the only way to whiten my dress and he was right! After two washes it was back to white!

The Lilly shoes made another appearance

I have linked two different white Lillys here. The first is the Aliza Midi dress, and it has very similar lace. The Maya Shift dress is also lace and it has the nicest neckline.

Let me know what you are wearing to graduation in the comments!

xox,

Marissa

Lifestyle

An Easter Playlist

Hey friends!

It’s definitely been a while since I hopped on the blog! I have been up editing a paper and the idea popped in my head to share some of my favorite Catholic songs as it is officially Easter!

This is a post that means so much to me because I have heard most of these songs since I was a freshman in high school just starting my journey of learning more about how my faith can help others. Every summer starting right after the 8th grade I participated in a week long service trip with my youth group. This was definitely an experience that shaped me and I am lucky enough to be able to come back every year and help other students have that same experience.

1: Do Something by Matthew West

To me, this song sums up everything that being a Catholic means. I don’t even think I could put it into better words than were written, “If not us then who?” There’s no better time to “Do Something” than right now!

It even made an appearance at the Women’s March…

2: Oceans by Hillsong UNITED

Another song I’ve been listening to for years. While I think this version is absolutely beautiful, one year we had a number of people in our group sing this while someone else played the guitar and I always get flashbacks to that night. Such a peaceful memory.

3: When We Pray by Tauren Wells

This is a pretty new song to me, I only discovered Tauren Wells last winter. Kate from Lonestar Southern shared a story and Hills & Valleys was playing and I thought it was so catchy! So I did the only logical thing and started playing him nonstop on Spotify. It was immediately added to my “If Not Me” playlist and the rest is history. 

4: Who Am I by Casting Crowns

This song will forever hold a special place in my heart. It has so many special memories for me. From our summer retreat to playing after our church’s Living Stations of the Cross to my first ever solo. When it came time for our teachers to pick solos one year, my teacher and someone else’s didn’t communicate and we had the same song. All I remember is her bringing out the waterworks so she could keep that song (as much as I like to think I didn’t come from a Dance Moms studio… we had our moments) and so my teacher then gave me the opportunity to pick my own song. A few nights later we were at Stations rehearsal and that song played and something just clicked. So after rehearsal I went home figured out that I could adjust the speed of one or two parts and everything fell into place.

And that’s my round up! This is definitely a little different than my usual posts but I hope you guys like it! If you need any other songs let me know I’d be more than happy to share. Please leave your favorite songs in the comments!

xox,

Marissa

Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: The Woman in Cabin 10

This book was a Christmas present and I have to say it is my favorite book I’ve read this year. While it started out slow, I’m not exactly sure why I thought it was slow because there was a home invasion but I wasn’t really feeling it. But then I got to Lo’s time on the boat and wow I could not put it down!

Maybe it’s my unhealthy obsession with the Titanic and tragedies at sea (a story for another time) but I was hook line and sinker for this book. I would describe this book as a psycho-thriller, I was on edge the whole time and just as I thought I figured it out, there was a plot twist to hide the truth yet again.

I will say I had some serious Shutter Island vibes going on here. But I was completely wrong, there’s so much going on here and that’s the least of Lo’s worries.

If you’re looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat that isn’t scary (I’m not good with horror movies) this is it!

Let me know what you’re reading in the comments!

xox,

Marissa