3 Simple Ways to Begin Your 2018 Journey of Success

Many people might open this article assuming it will be the same as all the rest; promising unrealistic results in such a short amount of time. How to lose 20 lbs in 2 weeks!! How to kick-start your 2018 dieting program!! How to be happier in 1 day!! This article is NOT about that. It is about zeroing on yourself to see how you can set yourself up for ultimate success – no matter what branch of your life it may be in. Here are 3 great ways to start on this journey, no matter who you are or what walk of life you are in:

1. Reflect on 2017

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Before you launch into 2018, you need to take a moment to pause and reflect on 2017. What challenges did you face? What successes did you have? In what ways did you grow? In what ways did you get stuck? Think about prompts like this and brain-dump onto paper. Write it allllllll out. This can help you unlock some deep-rooted feelings and thoughts you might not even know about.

2. Visualize Your 2018


Once you have reflected on last year, you can begin to visualize this year. Imagine your best year yet…what does it look like? What do you want it to be like? How do you see yourself this year? What do you want to accomplish? What might hold you back that you want to overcome? Again, write it all out. Even if you’re not an avid journal-er, it can still make a big impact to see all that you hope for on paper.

3. Set Realistic Goals for Yourself


Yes, some people think New Years resolutions don’t last…and for them, they’re right with an attitude like that! If you want to accomplish something and you set your mind to it, you will succeed. It could be one goal, it could be 20! Just make sure they follow these general “SMART” guidelines:

-Specific: Instead of saying, I want to have more fun, make it more specific. A better alternative would be, I want to go sky-diving or I want to take a trip to Colorado.

-Measurable: For some goals, you wont need this, but for many you will. Make sure your goal can be measured in some way. For example, instead of saying, I want to run more, say, I want to run three 5ks this year because can measure the amount the races you run.

-Achievable: Make sure your goal is one that can be done by you. Sure, you may say, I want to complete a half-marathon, but you haven’t ran in a few years! For someone else who has been running consistently, this goal would make sense. But for you, start small and work from there. A more achievable goal would be, I want to finish a fun-run.

-Realistic: Don’t get this one too confused with achievable. The difference it what resources are available to you. Once you have decided if something is achievable or not, then move on to look at what you have in your life and/or community. Do you have somewhere you can work towards your goal? Do you have someone who can help you accomplish it?

-Timely: Set a time constraint for yourself to complete the goal. If you make it time-less, then you are less likely to finish it. So, instead of saying, I want to go on a trip, give yourself a deadline to do it, such as, I want to go on a trip over Spring Break.

And there you have it! Three easy ways to embark on your amazing year. I wish you all the best of luck for 2018!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 1/1/2018



H.O.L.I.D.A.Y: An Acronym to Help You be More Thankful

A few weeks before finals, my mom asked me to send her my Christmas list, for which I laughably responded, “How about some financial stability?” She laughed too, but told me I seriously needed to give her and my dad some ideas for what to get me this year. This made me remember being a kid and writing a 5-page list with every toy, craft kit and weird contraption possible; each being something I, “absolutely needed!!!” Now, I sat there as a dumbfounded adult, not quite sure what I really could need. I ended up writing some ideas down, but nothing stuck out to me in the way little Hannah would have been excitedly scrawling in marker and glitter on her Dear Santa letter. 

This feeling got me thinking during my first few days back home for Winter Break. I started to reflect on how much my parents have given to me and my younger sisters over the years, despite not always deserving it. Like most other parents, they love us so immensely that even though we have definitely misbehaved and let them down in the past, they continue to give everything they can to us. With the exception of doing chores and aiming for good grades, they never expect anything in return. 

Realizing this fact throughout my years being a college student has made me feel so much more grateful for everything I already have; all the things not on that Christmas list. How can I express this gratitude though? I mean, you can’t always say, “Thank You!” and expect the person to truly understand how appreciative you are.  

So, I decided to make an acronym for showing and/or giving more gratitude to the people in your life: H.O.L.I.D.A.Y! In each conversation or situation with another person you find yourself in this holiday season, think, “How am I giving or showing {fill in the blank} in this moment?”

H: Help

How am I giving or showing help in this moment? 

If you’re sitting on your butt and notice your mom needs help cleaning, or your dad needs help cooking, jump in and lend a hand. If it’s not physical help, maybe it’s emotional by being there for someone who needs a friend to talk to. Actively think about how you are giving back to everyone who has given to you.

O: Optimism

How am I giving or showing optimism in this moment? 

Sometimes when around big groups of friends or family during the Holidays, we can become really negative and not realize it. People may try to be humorous when they feel uncomfortable or awkward, and end up poking fun at another’s expense. Little do we realize, we actually can hurt someone’s feelings a lot. That’s definitely not a way to show gratitude, so instead, think about how you are staying positive during conversation. Even if other people are being negative or maybe making a joke about you, still aim to be a better person by focusing on spreading kindness. 

L: Love

How am I giving or showing love in this moment?

Love is something we all appreciate during the holidays, but not everyone we encounter might be receiving it like we have. Try to reach out to those who you’ve lost touch with. Give to someone who is cold out on the streets. Volunteer somewhere that needs an extra hand. Tell your parents how much they mean to you. Send a heartfelt card to a dear friend. Pay for the car behind you at a drive-thru. It could be anything! Just do something to show you are trying to give back that love that you’ve gained over the years.

I: Interest

How am I giving or showing interest in this moment?

It’s easy for us to sometimes stop paying attention to someone or a situation and “check out”. We play on our phones, we think about all of our to-dos, and we don’t give that person or moment our time of day. Instead, try to think about contributing at least one though-provoking comment or expression of interest to this other person or situation. It could be something like, “Wow! I have never thought about it that way!” or “Interesting…How do you think this connects to me as a college-student?” (etc.). Even just nodding along and showing non-verbal cues is a way to show your interest and respect to the other person speaking. 

D: Demeanor

How am I giving or showing my demeanor in this moment?

This is another important one in my book. Especially around the Holidays when you are receiving presents and gifts, demeanor plays a HUGE role in expressing your gratitude for others. Yes, sometimes we get not-so-great gifts, but you don’t need to be the Grinch about it! Be thankful someone thought about you and spent their time and/or money putting something special together. There’s no worse feeling than giving to someone being so excited for them to open it for them to react negatively or show extreme dislike/disinterest in it. That feeling SUCKS, and I know because I have felt it before! Don’t do that to someone this season, so actively think about how you are reacting to opening a card or gift. You should aim to show genuine gratitude no matter what it is!

A: Appreciation

How am I giving or showing my appreciation in this moment?

This seems simple, but we don’t actively think about it moment-to-moment. What are you actually saying to people when you thank them? Think about other ways to say “thank you” by adding more meaning and personalization. Instead, say things like, “Mom, I really appreciate when you do {insert action here} for me. It means a lot and makes a difference for me day-to-day. I love you!” Change it how you like based on the person and situation. 

Y: Yourself

How am I giving or showing myself in this moment? 

This is the very last thing to consider in the HOLIDAY acronym, and personally, I think it’s the most important. Recently, I watched this video online that made me take a step back. It’s definitely worth the watch. We sometimes get so caught up in ourselves that we forget about everyone else. We think the world revolves around “me me me” and thus end up acting that way. Try to think about how you can behave more selflessly each and every day. 

That’s all you need to use this H.O.L.I.D.A.Y acronym this year. Give it a try and let me know what you think. It sure has made a difference for me, maybe it will for you. 🙂

Happy Holidays!!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 12/21/2017

What do I do now? A post-finals question we’re all wondering

YOU DID IT!! You worked so hard for so long and now you can finally sigh that breath of relief. Ahhhhhhhhhh. It feels like a piping hot kettle releasing all of its built-up steam. Instant gratification. You might look around for a second and smile, finally getting to relax. But then…this itchy, questionable feeling may spread through you saying…what the heck do I do now?! 

We go and go and go all semester long until we all reach our final destination of winter break, only to then be stumped on this irritable feeling of “too” much leisure time. Yes, that sounds ridiculous, of course college students LOVE our free time!! However, when you’re accustomed to doing so much for so long, you can start to feel antsy by the thought of three weeks of doing nothing. It feels “off”.

So…what do you do? Whether you’re going home for the holidays or clocking in a few extra work hours here and there, there are plenty of things you can accomplish over winter break. Here are some of my latest ideas for ultimate productivity:

reading winter

  • Read that Book
    • *cough*cough*, the one you’ve wanted to read for forever but haven’t given yourself any time to do so. May sound boring but will improve your ability to concentrate on something for an extended period of time.
  • Send Personalized Holiday Cards
    • Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just a simple Season’s Greetings, handwriting cards to those who are important to you during this time of the year can make a huge impact. Thank them for all they have done for you in 2017 and how much it means to you.


  • Try Out a New Recipe
    • We’ve all seen those delicious food videos plastering Facebook from time to time and tagging our friends in them…why not actually make the dang thing?! Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, Holiday “thing”, you name it….just try one out!
  • Reflect on Your Year
    • How did 2017 go for you? What did you like about it? What could you have changed? How do you want 2018 to be different? Brain dump it all on paper and see what inspiration you can draw from there to create some new goals for yourself.


  • Volunteer Somewhere with an Old Friend
    • Sometimes we get in the habit of not meeting up with old friends over break., and if we do it can be dull conversation over coffee. Why not make your time with them meaningful by volunteering somewhere together? There are hundreds of ways to give back during the holidays, so here’s your chance!
  • “New Year” Cleaning
    • Take time to sort through all your “stuff”. What’s valuable to you? What is junk? What can get donated? What can get sold? Organize and divide things up to start the year off fresh and finally toss things that are taking up too much space in your life.

Dance Ur Ash Off

  • Try a New Workout Class
    • Okay, I’m a little biased here of course as a Group Fit instructor, but SERIOUSLY this can be so much fun! Practically everywhere you go there’s some sort of gym or fitness studio that offers new client deals like free first classes, free weeks, or discounted trials. You don’t need to commit yourself to a membership anywhere! Plus, if you drag along a family member or friend, it can turn out to be a really great way to bond.
  • Treat Yourself to Something
    • ANYTHING! What’s something you have wanted to do for forever but never had the opportunity or time to? Here’s your chance to indulge a little bit. It could be a massage, pedicure, haircut, shopping trip…whatever! You deserve some you-time.
  • *Lightly* Prepare for Next Semester
    • I do mean lightly when I say this. It’s not time to frantically stress over the next classes you have to take, it’s about organizing the things you need to get or accomplish before heading back to school. Slowly start to gather new pencils and stationary and decide where you’re going to get your books. Little things like this can help you start off next semester strong and less worried.

If this list doesn’t include at least one thing that interests you, make your own! Jot down some ideas that you think may fill up your time over break in a positive and productive manner. Everyone is different, so finding your own niche can help you thoroughly enjoy your time.

Again, happy end of Finals!!!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 12/16/2017



Give Back this Holiday Season with UMD Students’ Soks Co.

If you’re anything like me, you may have no idea what the heck to ask for this Holiday season as a college student. Maybe some extra soap? Grocery store gift cards? Financial stability? I have no clue!

Here’s an idea for all of you though…socks. Not just any socks, ones with a true purpose and ties to our community. Started up by a few friends here at UMD for a class project, Soks Co. should for sure be on your gift list this year – regardless if you are giving or receiving! 

Soks Logo_2-01

Soks Co. is a company run by undergrads Austin Nelson, Patrick Wolf, Jon Eastlund, and Eric Smedsrud. Patrick and Austin grew up in Duluth, and although Jon and Eric are not Duluth natives, they have all found that Duluth can easily become a tight-knit and supportive community. A home away from home, essentially. Along with the harsh winters we can endure up here in the Northland, Duluth’s amazing community is the main reason why they established Soks Co. and its mission. 

“For us, it started with a problem”, says Austin, “Homelessness. And above that, what is lacking in support for them. After doing some research we realized socks are among the least donated items for shelters, and that goes for across the country. But even more so in our city, not having socks, or nice socks, [can] be the difference in surviving a bad winter.” They established Soks Co. as a way to give consumers quality, comfortable socks with that extra purpose. Austin goes on to explain that there is a growing need for businesses to be more than just the products they sell, and for him and his friends that was a no-brainer.


For every pair purchased, we donate a pair of our Merino Wool Original Socks. They are super comfortable, thermal socks that are perfect for use outdoors. The fabric blend is moisture-wicking and breathable, meaning both in the winter and summer they help alleviate some of the problems that come with having to spend hours and days outside,” Austin says.

Soks Co. has also been fortunate enough to partner with the Damiano Center to ensure that these socks go directly to people who need them. Austin goes on to say, “For us it has been so amazing to have their support in our mission. And that leads us back to the community. We have received so much support from people and small businesses who embody that sense of togetherness Duluth has. We truly wanted to make a difference in the community, something local that affects people right in our city.”

Soks Co. is currently only selling through the website www.soks.shop and are working on eventually expanding the company to be even more accessible. Go check them out if you haven’t already – they’ll definitely KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF 😉

Happy Thursday!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 12/07/2017

Motivation Monday: 10 Dr. Seuss Quotes to Get You Through Today

Happy M O N D A Y everyone! I hope you aren’t as sleepy as I am, but if you are no worries at all. Here are some awesome Dr. Seuss quotes to get you up and at ’em today:

1. “Today You are YOU, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than YOU.”

Sometimes you can get lost in a sea of comparison between yourself and others. STOP IT! You are so unique and wonderful in each and every way. There is only one YOU! Just be the best you that you can be.

2. “If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.”

Step outside your comfort zone! Try new things! Go new places! Your life can be anything that you imagine it to be.

3. “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

*IMPORTANT QUOTE ALERT!* One of my all-time F A V O R I T E S. Knowing this is so important throughout your life interacting with so many different people. At the end of the day, don’t get flustered by minute details from someone who isn’t an integral part of your life. The people who matter to you the most are the ones you should pay attention to more often.

4. “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Glass half FULL! Start to view your outcomes in life more positively by smiling about them than crying. Sure things can be really upsetting from time to time, but ask yourself, where is the Silver Lining in all of this? Sure that is so cliche, but it truly can make a difference in your perspective(s) on things.

5. “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

T R U E. We tend to over-analyze a LOT in our lives. The answer can literally be sitting smack dab in the middle of our faces and we can fail to notice simply because the question itself is so confusing. Take a step back and try to solve your problems from the angle of, what could my answer be? rather than getting frustrated by the question.

6. “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

Speak up! Say what you want to say! Find your inner voice, your deep down confidence, your “true self” and let them soar! Your words matter; your voice M A T T E R S; let it be loud and clear for everyone to hear!

7. “The more that you read, the more you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

I love this one. I truly believe the more you do spend your time reading tangible, physical B O O K S, the better you can be. Knowledge is power; just think about Matilda! Sure, I can’t promise you telekinesis, but I can promise you less phone-mush-time and more book-learning-wisdom. Stop candy crushing and get to work!

8. “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it is June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get late so soon?”

Time does fly by. Everyone says it, but you truly don’t feel it until your time is spinning uncontrollably out of your hands. I’m already finishing up my first half of my junior year in college, and it felt like yesterday was move-in day. Your life is time-sensitive. Every single day matters. Make the most out of what you have and who you hope to become by treating time like your most valuable asset.

9. “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

Sometimes your days ROCK. Sometimes they don’t…and that’s perfectly okay! Keep in mind that you are always able to start another day tomorrow. Put on your happy hat and keep truckin’.

10. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”

Step outside the box. Brainstorm. Create. Get E X C I T E D! You can do so much by spending some time thinking. Let yourself become the master of creation. Don’t get stuck in a swirling, never-ending, sheep-like mentality of follow the leader. Be your own YOU and think for yourself from time to time. What works for you? What excites you? What can you think up for this or for that?

I hope at least one of these quotes helps you get a little more pep in your step today. Happy Monday folks!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 11/19/2017


It’s the Most Germ-i-ful Time of The Year!

So if you’re like me, you probably know this already. Once the air starts to get cool and crisp, your body suddenly decides, “Hey, you know what I haven’t had in a while? A nasty cold!” and some sort of nasty, boogery illness creeps into your every particle. Grrrrrreat, right? I started off the school year battling one cold for a few weeks, only to recently be bombarded with another one. I tell ya, my immune system is probably ticked at me for not doing a better job at cold prevention. 

So, what can you do to avoid being sick during school this fall, or at least, get sick less often? Here are some of the top ways to kick the cold to the curb:

Get Your Annual Flu Shot


You may have missed UMD’s free flu shots last week, but a ton of places in Duluth offer free or low-cost flu shots depending on your health insurance. Why should you get a flu shot though?! According to the CDC, “Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.”

Some places you can check out for your annual flu shot include any Walgreens, St. Luke Clinics, Essentia Health, CVS Minute Clinics, and many more. Also, St. Louis County public health nurses will be giving out free flu shots to people who are either uninsured or under insured, and are at least 6 months old. Dates and locations include:

  • Nov. 9, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at CHUM, 120 W. Second St.
  • Nov. 15, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the New San Marco Apartments, 230 W. Third St.
  • Nov. 16, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Damiano Center, 206 W. Fourth St.

Wash Your Hands & Use Hand Sanitizer Often


This seems like a no-brainer, but we actually don’t wash our hands enough. Think about all the surfaces and people you come in contact throughout the day; it’s a LOT! And with all that contact with other things, you are touching all the germs they carry. Then, you likely will end up touching your face in some way or another, which is how you usually become sick. Not all germs are “bad” and you are likely resistant to the majority of them, but with cold season, you should especially give your hands a good washing here and there for at least 20 seconds in warm, soapy water. Carry around a small tube of hand sanitizer (which you can find at the school store) in your bag to use during or between classes. 

Wipe Down Your Phone

On the same note of avoiding germs, your phone tends to carry a ton! You are constantly touching it with your hands (that have been practically everywhere) and then putting it close or up to your face. Grab a sani-wipe of some sort and give a good cleaning once a week. Careful not to get it wet however!

Drink Plenty of Water Throughout the Day


Instead of constantly sucking down pop, juice, or some fru-fru coffee drink, try to drink more WATER! We are almost chronically dehydrated in this day and age, and that is not a good thing for your immune system. Drinking more water everyone knows is important in feeling better, but we don’t think about it enough as a preventative measure for the common cold. Try to drink at least one big glass of water with each meal, and 2-3 big glasses or bottles between them.

Stay Away From Your Sick Friends


This also seems like a “duh” moment, but I am guilty of this myself. You can still be empathetic and comforting to your sick family members and friends, BUT, know that it’s okay to keep your distance. You don’t need to isolate them like a germ prisoner, but just be aware the further you are, the better!

Incorporate Leafy Greens & Fresh Fruits Into Your Diet

When you eat well, you feel well! Avoiding crappy junk food with too much salt or sugar and eating more fresh produce is a fantastic preventative measure against colds. These foods are full of nutrients, antioxidants and minerals that are extremely beneficial to your immune system. On the flip side, junk food is not good for it. Try to eat at least one serving of each a vegetable and fruit with each meal. They also make for yummy, filling snacks!

Wash Your Sheets Regularly

Also something we put by the wayside besides our health; our BED SHEETS! Especially if you are sick or have been sick, wash your sheets! Sheets soak up all of the “stuff” your body sloughs off during sleep, such as dandruff, old skin, makeup, sweat, etc (won’t continue into gross detail). Nothing makes you feel a little bit healthier than a fresh, clean pair of covers when you go to bed at night. 

When To See A Doctor


In case you do get a nasty bug of some sort, know when you should go to the doctor by identifying one or multiple of the following symptoms:

  • a temperature higher than 100.4° F
  • symptoms that last more than 10 days
  • symptoms that are severe or unusual

Do your best to avoid those icky micro-bugs and STAY HEALTHY FOLKS!

Written by Hannah Garrett on 10/17/2017


Countdown to Bulldog Welcome Week 2017: ONE. DAY. LEFT!

With only ONE day left until your adventure of Bulldog Welcome Week starts, here’s some things to keep in mind for the next few days:


Bulldog welcome week is a fantastic opportunity to open yourself up to new people and the University as a whole.  The whole purpose of it all is to get you comfortable with UMD as a new home so you can focus on learning how to navigate college courses without being worried that you don’t know where to go or who to talk to. This week is about YOU and for YOU!


If you’re feeling overwhelmed by an activity, find a RockStar and tell them! They can get you out of the situation for awhile. This week is again about YOU, so we want you to feel your absolute best. Everyone is different though, so if you’re just feeling off or not the best during something we want to help. If you want to talk about something too, learn to speak up in RockGroups and say what you need or want.


Pushing through the awkward or the uncomfortable is an important part of orientation to help you further step outside of your comfort zone. When you try new things and push past all that unfamiliar weirdness, you develop a new sense of confidence in yourself (whether you know it or not!) Sometimes it’s okay when things get quiet or are awkward…we’re ALL learning to navigate the new connections and experiences around us too!
We can’t wait to see you TOMORROW! Get excited for one of the best parts of your time here at UMD, and HAVE FUN!!!!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 8/21/2017


Meet the Rockstars: Marshal Quast

Written by Hannah Garrett on 8/20/2017

Meet the Rockstars: Megan Haller

Written by Hannah Garrett on 8/20/2017

Meet the Rockstars: Kylee Pass

Written by Hannah Garrett on 8/20/2017