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


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: The Non-Guilty Way to Slow Down & Take a Breath

Happy Monday people! Has today been feeling like “a Monday” to you too? Cause…same!

It has become that point in the semester in which it is so incredibly easy to become stressed. Homework piles up, projects are due, and the amount of tests you are taking begin to feel questionably torturous. Sometimes, us college students can feel as this is too much of a “norm” and start forgetting what it feels like to not have so much to do. But hey – it’s time to pause that never-ending tape for a second! In order to confidently finish your semester without running out of steam, you need to give yourself a moment to relax each and every day. I know I say this a lot, but its TRUE! Everyone deserves a break, especially you. Here’s how to do it in a non-guilty way:

Meditate Before Bed

Whatever the word “meditate” means to you, do it for 10 minutes right before you go to bed. I would normally say, “Wake up 10 minutes early and do it!” but I know that can’t apply to everyone, as some of us (myself included) are literal sloths who want every ounce of sleep they can get. So basically, this is an excuse-free version. You can still do it before you get ready in the morning if that is what works best for you, but everyone can do it before climbing into bed (so do it one way or another). Here are some ideas for making the perfect 10-minute mediation session:

  • Dim the lighting so it’s soft and warm (candle-light, twinkly lights, or none at all)
  • Put on some soothing music (whatever helps you chill it, play it out loud or put some headphones in)
  • Begin to breathe as slowly as you can, inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling softly out through your mouth. Imagine you are filling up a circle as wide as it possibly can go as you inhale, and shrink it down into a tiny dot as you exhale. If visualizing waves coming in and out of shore helps you breathe slower, do that instead!
  • Think about what makes you happy in your life. Start to picture all the things you are surrounded by that brings you positivity. Imagine your happy place, wherever that is for you.
  • Send appreciation out for 3 things and/or people in your life. This is especially important for being able to slow down your busy life and actually focus on “the big stuff”. Sometimes we get so frantic about the minute day-to-day details that we let our gratefulness for what we have in our lives go by the wayside.
  • Set a goal for yourself for the next day that is centered around self-care. What can you do to make yourself feel better? Can you make it a goal to go to bed earlier? Can you smile at a stranger? Can you give yourself a pedicure while listening to your favorite playlist?
  • End your meditation by focusing on nothing but your breath. Try to block out little extra noise (that’s why headphones are nice) and just breathe. Feel your chest expand and contract very slowly, letting your heart rate drop. This feels so awesome and will help you fall asleep faster as your body completely relaxes.
  • Don’t want to worry about all this ^ and just listen to someone tell you what to do? If you have Spotify, look up “Meditation Minis” and listen to any of them to help you get into your chill-out zone. Otherwise, YouTube has hundreds of free meditation videos ranging anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour. Find what YOU like and stick to it!

Send a Card to Someone


We easily forget to do this in this day and age. People are so glued to their devices that they forget about putting pen to paper. Who in your life deserves a handwritten note? You should be able to find at least one person worth writing for. Take 10 minutes out of your day to zone out and just vent all the reasons why you love this person / are thanking them. Put it in an envelope, slap a stamp on it, and send it off. People love these kind of sentiments – they mean so much more than a text or social media post. It’ll help you feel more connected to someone who means a lot to you and to take a step back in your busy life.

Go for a Walk

Even if it is just 10 minutes around campus, put some headphones in, turn your phone on silent and just enjoy the fresh air. Sometimes all we need is some head space to reboot our boggled brains, and doing this can seriously help. Whether you’re studying for an exam or trying to cram in more “to-dos”, give yourself a break now and then to take some deep breaths outside and move around. Let your brain focus on nothing but the sky, the trees, the ground, the people passing by, and so on.

Spend 5 Extra Minutes in the Shower to Zone Out


I’m sure a lot of you have done this, but do it more if you’re starting to get stressed! Letting hot water run over you as your mind just blanks out is actually so refreshing (and we all know it). Stop thinking about your work scheduled, homework list, and whether Stacy’s text was passive aggressive or not. This is YOU time!

Give Yourself a Pat on the Back!

Smile at yourself in the mirror more. Tell yourself, “HEY! You’re awesome!” cause you need to hear it. Give yourself a confidence boost by thinking of a few things each day you strive at. Remind yourself you’re doing great things for yourself and reflect on how much you’ve grown since _________. Your opinion of yourself is the most important one!

Go ahead and try at least ONE of these tips this week (preferably each day) in order to restart your head. You need (and deserve!) it.


Written by Hannah Garrett on 11/13/2017



Meet the Rockstars: Megan Sheppard

Written by Hannah Garrett on 7/22/2017

Meet the Rockstars: Savannah Nelles

Written by Hannah Garrett on 7/21/2017

Meet the Rockstars: Andrew Manoleff

1. Name: Andrew Manoleff

2. Hometown: Milaca MN

3. Major: Mechanical Engineering Minors: Mathematics, Communication
4. Year in School: Fifth-Year Senior
5. If money and practicality weren’t an issue, what mode of transportation would you use to get around town? Jet pack
6. Favorite place to eat in Duluth: New London Café
7. The thing to do before you die: Skydive


8. What I wish I would’ve known when I began UMD: Make sure you have time for yourself and don’t over do it with getting involved.
Written by Hannah Garrett on 7/20/2017

Meet the Rockstars: Kristin Larson

1. Name: Kristin Larson 
2. Hometown: Savage, MN
3. Major(s) and Minor(s): Major: Biochemistry Minor: Deaf studies 
4. Year in school: Senior 
5. If you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be and why? A baby carrot because I’m really small
6. Your hands-down favorite place to eat in Duluth: I love Toasty’s but I’m a little obsessed with grilled cheese so that might be why!

7. One thing you absolutely need to do before you die: I need to go to Australia because I need to pet a koala bear!
8. What you wish you would’ve known when you began your first year at UMD: Shadow, shadow, shadow because as much as you think you might want to do a certain job you never know until you’re in the field!
Written by Hannah Garrett on 7/19/2017

Meet the Rockstars: Anna Schackmuth

1. Name: Anna Schackmuth

2. Hometown: Cottage Grove, Minnesota

3. Major(s) and Minor(s): Psychology major and Studio Art minor

4. Year in School: Senior

5. If you were a vegetable, which one would you be and why? Avocado! Technically a fruit, but I consider it to be a vegetable for sure. Favorite “vegetable” ever!

6. Your hands-down favorite place to eat in Duluth: Uncle Louis Café

7. One thing you absolutely need to do before you die: Being brought to a different country spontaneously, where I do not know where I am going until I step foot inside the country!

8. What you wish you would’ve known before you began your first year at UMD: One piece of advice I would give to incoming freshman is to be open to meeting new people and getting to know new cultures


Written by Hannah Garrett on 7/11/2017

Last Minute Finals Tips as Told by “Friends”

Ah, Wednesday. We are soooooo close to being done with Spring 2017 Finals Week! Maybe you’ve taken all of your final exams, maybe you’re stuck with the 2:00 Friday test time (cough, cough, ME!). Whoever you are, give yourself a great big pat on the back. You are only 2 days away from being officially done with being a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. Congratulations!!

BUT…in case you’re feeling like you’re in a bit of a slump on hump day, don’t fret. I am actually right there with you. Procrastinating studying for that last final? Yep, me too. Writing this blog post tonight is actually my way of doing so. I am trying my very hardest to avoid the thought of having two important tests back-to-back this Friday. So what can ya do to avert this mentality?

Get the Brain Juices Flowing!


Maybe you’re low on fuel, and your brain is responding by being quickly distracted by that phone *ping!* or to that person chewing loudly on the second floor of the library. Address your needs. Hungry? Feed yourself. Thirsty? Go chug some water. Feeling mentally fatigued? Perk up with a good cup of joe. Do SOMETHING to push your brain back onto the studying track rather than fibbing to yourself, “Just one more episode of this Netflix series…and then I’ll start.”

Isolate Yourself


Yes friends are awesome, but sometimes they can completely kill your study vibe. I bet you’re not actually working harder with a “study group” unless you absolutely do not understand something that your friend is trying to explain. You are much better off putting yourself in a distraction-free zone on the third or fourth floor of the library, or somewhere else you won’t be bothered. Turn the phone on silent and stow it away (Yes, I am a flight attendant). You will get NOTHING done with roommates or friends or Facebook chattering in your ear left and right.

Make a Rough Study Plan


Yeah, you probably know what you need to do, but are you actually doing it? Put your pen to paper and be specific. Write down every detail about what you need to do tonight in order to feel successful going into tomorrow and Friday. What parts of chapters do you need to read? What do you need to put on a Quizlet? What do you need to review on Moodle? Whatever it may be, think about it proactively and slowly start checking it off throughout the night. That’ll keep you motivated to try to finish as many things as you need to.

Take a Break When You Need It


You may be feeling pretty slumped because you’ve been working too hard. But, you might still have a million things on your plate and unsure how to complete them all in one sitting. You don’t have to! Get up every 30 minutes to an hour to stretch, walk around, use the bathroom, and wake up your brain. Plus, studies have shown that it is actually beneficial to take small breaks during studying to allow information to really sink in. Be like Ross and take a break! (Too soon?)

Hopefully this helps you out during your last few days of finals. Good luck and study hard everyone!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 5/3/2017


Why It’s Okay to Be Overinvolved (& How to Do It Right)

Hello everyone! I hope you are out enjoying the slightly chilly but absolutely beautiful weather we are having in Duluth on this wonderful Tuesday.

So, today’s post is about something I feel like is important to talk about when you’re finding your way through college and all of the opportunities it can give you. Recently, I was just elected as the Secretary of Attitudes Dance Association and the President of UMD Yoga Club. On top of that, I am the Scribe for Phi Sigma Sigma, I work two on-campus jobs, I was just certified as a NETA Group Fitness instructor, and not to mention I am an Exercise Science major striving for Physical Therapy school (which has requirements such as 100+ hours of PT shadowing). Talk about busy, right?

I am not alone though, and I know that for a fact because EVERYONE in my life right now is always insanely busy! I’m not the only nut cramming every last ounce of time in my color-coded planner to all of the things I’m involved in (Thank God).

So…is this a good or a bad thing?

The other day I was thinking this exact question to myself. Have I found myself to be a better person overall by being overly involved? I contemplated it for a moment, and I drew three big conclusions:

            a) I have always been someone who has a fear of missing out (FOMO) when it comes to opportunities. I have always been someone doing everything and anything, ever since I was little. So this just comes naturally to me.

b) By being so busy, I have to re-prioritize my time to be able to handle it all. And since I want to do it all, I have to make it work with what I’ve got. Otherwise, I have to cut my losses (i.e., what do I need to cut out that I don’t really want or need in order to have time for the ones I do?)

c) Being busy always trumps being not busy for me, as I feel extremely motivated by needing to complete certain tasks because of a time limitation or due date. If I do not have anything to do or time to spend lolly-gagging, I feel like I am absolutely unproductive and lazy.

When you read these two statements, do they apply to you? Whatever your answer may be, there’s one thing I want to explain. Being involved in a ton of activities and obligations does not mean you have no time, and it does not mean you can’t successfully “do it all” – you absolutely can.

Right now, maybe you’ve been stuck in a rut and feeling like you can’t handle all of the commitments you’ve made it college. Maybe you’ve been so close to being on top of everything, but you can’t quite play catch-up. Maybe you’re reading this and like “WTF I could NEVER be able to handle all that!” and thinking about exiting out of the screen. Whichever one you may be, LISTEN TO ME! I have some extremely helpful tips on how you can truly be successful with trying to handle it all.


Real time photo of my week last week; color coded and everything!
You seriously can’t remember everything. I don’t care if you think you have a photographic memory – ya don’t! Get a snazzy planner, use your google calendar, open your iPhone calendar, and WRITE IT ALL DOWN! Important dates, reminders, whatever your heart desires so that you know well in advance and don’t play the, “Oh crap, I didn’t know!” later on. You’re an adult now, start behaving like one who’s got it all together!

Cut Out The “Crap” that Doesn’t Bring Joy to Your Life

If it doesn’t make you happy, why the heck are you doing it?! (*Disclaimer, sorry, you can’t consider school as an example for this, we are all in H-E-double hockey sticks too with that one and it’s the one exception to this rule). If you are working at a job you absolutely loathe, GO GET A NEW ONE! If you are in one too many organizations and one of them just doesn’t seem to be fitting you anymore, SEE YA! If you are wasting all of your time and energy on someone who sucks the living soul out of you, straight up tell them BYE FELISHA! You get the picture. If you want to handle it all, you need to stop spending your precious time on things that really don’t matter.


People always ask me, “Hannah!! Why didn’t you open my snapchat from THREE hours ago yet?!” or “HANNAH!! You didn’t text me back within 10 minutes!”. Well guess what, friends? I am currently BUSY juggling all of my priorities, and the very last thing on that list is checking my phone every two seconds. If you honestly think you can handle everything you want to have in your life AND be on your phone 24/7, I don’t think you sleep. Ever. Cause that’s insane. Un-glue yourself from that tiny electronic and get s&%! done! Why waste your time scrolling through Facebook when you can be completing 5 assignments in one sitting and then have time later to screw around?

I could go on and on and on about how to be successful with multiple commitments and an abundance of priorities. But, those are the staple influential factors that help me “do it all” that I think anyone could apply to their current lives. So what are you waiting for? GO GET TO WORK!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 4/11/2017