Re-Writing Your Resolutions

by Karissa Peyer

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this month?  Even if you did not formally announce it or frame it as a resolution, perhaps you still had thoughts of exercising more, eating better, quitting smoking or getting more sleep.  According to, over half of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions and the most popular resolution is to lose weight or eat healthier.  Despite all these resolutions, nearly 50% of people fail to carry out these behavior changes beyond the end of January! So how do you stop yourself from joining this statistic?

There are a number of theories (Bandura, 1989; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Prochaska & Velicer, 1997) discussing what it is that makes people stick with health behavior changes, but they have many common threads. Among these is to identify WHY you are making the change, what barriers or supports are in your environment, and tracking your progress.  Below are some tips for sticking with your goals this year:

  1. Know your “Why.” If you know your “Why” you will find your “How.” Spend some time to really think about why you are trying to make this change. What benefits do you expect to see if you are successful?  What will happen if you fail?  How does this change affect those around you? The answer to this question is different for everyone.  While it sounds good to say that you are going to eat healthier because you want to lower your cholesterol, if the truth is that you just want your spouse to stop nagging you, own it!
  2. Adjust if needed. Maybe your original goal was to go to the gym five days a week but you’ve been struggling to make it just two nights a week. Cut yourself a break and acknowledge that two is more than zero! It is better to back off a bit than to quit completely.
  3. Identify barriers. This goes along with #2. What are the things that made it hard to hit your 5 day/week goal? Maybe you’re more likely to make it to the gym if you go in the morning because work or family commitments tend to eat up more time than expected in the evening. Perhaps you struggle with your healthy eating or smoking cessation goal in certain social situations. Identifying these triggers will help you to plan for them.
  4. Find your support. There’s a wealth of research (and personal experience!) showing that people are more likely to stick with behavior changes, especially exercise if they are receiving social support. This be a friend who meets you at the gym, a group exercise class where you make friends and people will notice if you miss, or just sharing regular updates with a friend or on social media to hold yourself accountable.
  5. Track, track, track. Keep track of your progress, including notes about what worked and what didn’t. This can be a reward in itself when you look back at the end of the week and see how much time you spent at the gym or how many vegetables you ate! Adding notes about what you enjoyed or tricks and tips that helped you stick to your goal each day will be good reminders when you struggle in the future.
  6. Reward yourself! While better health is certainly a reward on its own, sometimes we want something more immediate and more tangible. It is ok to reward yourself sometimes for your hard work! Make a contract with yourself to treat yourself to a new workout outfit or a new pair of shoes after 15 trips to the gym. Buy yourself that awesome new dinner set to eat all your healthy food off of when you stick to your meal plan.  Just be sure your reward doesn’t negate all your hard work! A scoop of ice cream for hitting your target at the gym is great – an entire gallon just spoils all that effort!
  7. Most importantly, find what works for you! Your initial goal may not be going as planned, but that’s no reason to quit.  Evaluate your plan, make changes as necessary and keep working at it!

Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social cognitive theory. American psychologist44(9), 1175.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York ; Plenum.

Prochaska, J. O., & Velicer, W. F. (1997). The transtheoretical model of health behavior change. American journal of health promotion12(1), 38-48.

file-phpKarissa Peyer Contact

Karissa L. Peyer, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She received her Ph.D. from Iowa State University in Physical Activity and Health Promotion. Karissa’s research focuses on physical activity, childhood obesity and behavior change in both children and adults. Karissa enjoys running, biking, swimming and hanging out with her dog, Mika


Are You a Stand-Up Person?

By Scott Senseman

After finding out that I was getting the opportunity to become a faculty member and department head at the University of Tennessee in the spring of 2013, I was working with several people to help in the transition to a new state and a new position. Knowing that the position that I was accepting potentially had more stress related to it, I was concerned about the toll that the job itself, as well as the travel, might have. However, I had not given much thought to the office furniture that I might consider as a part of my overall well-being in a potentially more stressful job situation. I had originally decided to get the similar, more conventional furniture in my office that a colleague had shown me.

While expressing my thoughts to Cynthia, our staff person who was going to order the furniture for me, she asked me if I had considered other options for better ergonomics. I had but thought perhaps that it would be frivolous to consider purchasing something like that in my role. She talked me into at least looking at some options, so I did. After some investigation, I finally decided on a desk that was adjustable so that I could stand or sit. It turns out that human beings really aren’t built to sit that much based on the some of the research that I had read about. What was the worst thing that could happen? I get a desk that allows me to stand but I sit instead? All furniture is expensive it seems but, so is a triple bypass. Maybe I have better circulation because I stand and maybe it prevents some bad things from happening too soon from a stressful job.

After three-plus years of using a stand-up desk, I am a strong proponent. If I am in my office at the computer, I stand on a mat that I purchased on my own that has memory foam. My lower back feels great when I used to have some issues from time to time. I feel much more engaged while I’m reading or working on the computer, particularly in the afternoon. Seems like if I read anything while sitting, I tend to wobble my head like a newborn toddler with no neck control because it puts me to sleep. I don’t have that problem in the afternoon while standing. I don’t feel as if my mind wanders as much and that I am a bit more intentional about what I’m trying to accomplish. It is almost as if I am “in the game” and doing what I can to maximize my efforts.

I am glad that I have a stand-up desk and I highly recommend it. I have noticed that others in the department are adapting to these also. They come in many forms and price ranges and can conform to an already established desk (See I settled on a Biomorph ( but there are many others. Take a look; maybe it will work for you, too.

Scott Senseman Contact
UT Institute of Agriculture

Scott is a professor and department head in the Department of Plant Sciences. He and his wife, Laura, have been in Knoxville since July of 2013. He is originally from Tipp City, Ohio and received his B.S. from Wilmington College of Ohio. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas and spent almost 19 years as a faculty member at Texas A&M University prior to starting his position at the University of Tennessee.

What’s In a Name?

By Britton Sharp

What’s in a name?

I am named after my two grandfathers. My first name comes from my paternal grandfather, he was a coal miner from rural Kentucky. My middle name is my mother’s maiden name. Her dad was a first generation immigrant just before the second World War.

My name tells a story.

A few years ago my brother and I realized that we didn’t fully know that story, so we began to explore our family history.

Genealogy has become a popular topic in our culture. There are TV shows about people exploring their heritage and many online sites offer to help.

What we found is that what looks glamorous and easy, takes a lot of work and can often be frustrating. However, when the connections are made they uncover not just information but also identity.

We learned several lessons during our search for our story.

The first was to be patient. Family history can turn into family legend, which makes the process a bit frustrating because you are looking for the thread of traceable fact. This may mean that while the story of great, great, grandpa Cletus was hilarious and a great story, it can’t be verified and you have to keep digging. Looking for your family’s story will seem frustrating, especially when there are multiple threads, but if you are patient you will find that following a thread will unlock a new section of your story. It will also take time, it became a bit of a hobby that we would work on when we had both the time and resources. Over the course of around five years, our story unfolded.

I am an artist and have always been told my perspective is unique and while at times this has been encouraging it has often caused me to feel a bit isolated. I grew up being told that my grandfather on my mom’s side was German. However, in following the thread through online searches, local libraries and talking to some people from the town in Germany they were from – my family actually moved to Germany from France. In following this thread it revealed that my unique perspective was also found in my ancestors who were craftsmen, composers, and fashion designers. The thread linked a painting country boy from rural Tennessee to a notable composer in Germany and a fashion designer in Europe.

The second lesson we learned is that you will use both primary and secondary tools. While one site may offer to be a one stop shop, you will end up using several various methods to discover your story. We found that using sites like were helpful, but we also would use local libraries (many now online) and church records to fill in the gaps. You will also discover others that are looking for their story and your paths may cross, at these moments we found that information was most often freely and excitedly shared.

Lastly, one of the most helpful things we found was taking a trip to some of the destinations we uncovered. It was like stepping back in time, finding the church they attended, looking through phone books searching for our last name, talking with locals about the town’s history. I wouldn’t suggest this for every location you discover, it was most helpful when got stuck in our search. Our trail got stuck in Germany, specifically Dresden. One summer we took a trip to Dresden even though the leads were getting cold. We told the locals our last name. They didn’t understand so I wrote it down. Their eyes lit up and said “Oh! You are pronouncing it wrong because it isn’t German it is French!” After a few more conversation, the French thread of our story line was revealed. We discovered that the town was actually a popular destination for French Huguenots who were escaping persecution.

We all have a story and that story is valuable. Uncovering the story of your past will take work and effort, but knowing your past may also help understand your present.

Here are some tools that proved helpful in our search:

The local library closest to your family and their Genealogy and local history department.

img_0446Britton Sharp Contact
UT Knoxville

Britton is an artist, writer, gardener, husband, and father. When he isn’t chasing toddlers with his wife, Brooks, you can find Britton writing in a coffee shop or watercolor painting downtown. He is a regular contributor to the blogs: and

As vice president of the Campus Ministers Council and director of Collegiate Abbey, he works to provide self-care resources to UT Knoxville faculty and staff.

Supporting your spouse with dementia starts with caring for yourself!

By Karen Rose

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2016 Facts & Figures, every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. develops this disease. The hidden heroes are the family members who support their loved ones with dementia in maintaining their independence and dignity, too often at the expense of their own health.  Below, I offer my insights for supporting a spouse with dementia—although these tips apply to supporting anyone with dementia.

  • Take care of yourself! Supporting a loved one with dementia is a hard job.  Family caregivers are known to forego their own health needs as manifested by skipping medical check-ups and failing to maintain routine self-care activities.  This likely plays a role in poor health outcomes for many family caregivers.  Make and keep the appointments you need with your healthcare provider to maintain your own health.
  • Stay connected with your social networks. Your loved one with dementia is a person who benefits from being around others to maintain their own dignity and self-worth. It may be that your loved one no longer enjoys being in big, noisy crowds—but, that doesn’t mean that smaller, more intimate social activities surrounded by loving family and friends need to be relinquished.  You need to stay connected with your friends and your loved one does, too.
  • Stay active! Regular physical exercise is good for you and for your loved one with dementia. Being outdoors, weather permitting, can have a calming effect for your loved one as the sights and sounds of nature are known to be soothing. And, there are health benefits from regular aerobic and strength-training exercises for persons with dementia, so it’s a good thing to do for everyone.
  • Get adequate rest and sleep. You cannot support your loved one if you are operating from a glass that is “half full.”  Maintaining adequate rest and sleep help support your ability to be at the top of your game.  Avoid too much caffeine and strive to maintain a regular schedule for when you go to bed and when you rise in the morning.  A routine for you and your loved one with dementia helps everyone feel well rested.
  • Ask for help. Family and friends want to help support family caregivers and aren’t always sure how to do so. Make specific requests for assistance, like picking up a prescription or going grocery shopping, as you will find that people are eager to help.  People want to help—it makes them feel good and it helps you to continue to provide support for your loved one.
  • Reexamine holiday traditions. Are you able to pare back some of the activities of your holiday traditions while still maintaining what’s important to you and your family? You may notice that your loved one with dementia becomes anxious or seems agitated when many people are around, even if the people are family members. In this case, reexamining family traditions and reframing these in ways that will not overwhelm your loved one may allow you to continue to honor family traditions in a different way.
  • Plan for the future. Now may be a good time to have meaningful conversations with your loved one with dementia and your family so that you can make plans for your future.  Working with your attorney and financial advisor will provide you with comfort in knowing your wishes for the future are carried out in the ways in which you and your loved ones want them to be.

In short, taking care of yourself is the best way to support your loved one with dementia.  There are many community resources that are available to support family caregivers and persons with dementia.  A great place to start is by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging.  Additional resources are available through the Alzheimer’s Association and through the Family Caregiver Alliance.

rose_karenKaren Rose Contact
UT Knoxville

Karen Rose is the McMahan-McKinley Professor of Gerontology in the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in gerontological nursing. Dr. Rose’s program of research is focused on supporting family caregivers for persons with dementia and in addressing and ameliorating neuropsychiatric behaviors in dementia. Karen enjoys traveling, hiking, doing almost anything outdoors, and spending time with her family and friends.

The Beauty of a Tennessee Autumn

By Britton Sharp

Autumn in Tennessee is one of my favorite things. Perhaps it is because much of what we have become so accustomed to seeing around us begins to display a new brilliance. Paths we walk to our office or class begin to change, life visually is entering a new phase. Things become more vibrant and we know that a change is coming. (Even if it is still 84 degrees!)

As the seasons change, it reminds me of changes in my life. It is my belief that our lives have seasons as well- periods of new beginnings, seasons of fruitfulness, times of transition and moments of internal development.

A few years ago while I was working in Sweden, I had the opportunity to speak with one of their top botanist. We were discussing the beauty of the season of Spring in her country. She began to explain that the external beauty of Spring is only made possible due to the internal development that occurs during Winter.

The same has proven true in the many areas of my life (professionally, personally, emotionally, physically and spiritually). I have struggled when I have compared myself to those around me. However, as I look back, I see that many times I was comparing my Winter to their Spring. When we compare ourselves to others it can so often rob us of the depths of our current season. Just because my growth in an area isn’t visible, doesn’t mean it isn’t occurring. We do have the responsibility to cultivate environments of growth, but we have to realize that much like nature around us, we cannot rush it. You can yell at an apple tree all you want, but you will still have to wait for an apple.

As the season visibly changes around us, my hope is that we would be reminded of the process of growth and the seasons in our own lives, that we strive to cultivate healthy environments in all areas of our lives, but also be patient to see those areas bear fruit.

May you enjoy the beauty of a Tennessee autumn.

Britton Shaimg_0446rp Contact
UT Knoxville

Britton is an artist, writer, gardener, husband and father. When he isn’t chasing toddlers with his wife, Brooks, you can find Britton writing in a coffee shop or watercolor painting downtown. He is a regular contributor to the blogs: and

As vice president of the Campus Ministers Council and director of Collegiate Abbey, he works to provide self-care resources to UT Knoxville faculty and staff.

Crock-Pot Cooking is Convenient Cooking

By Reston Hartsell and Tsz- Kiu Chui

September is the month of the year that gets us excited about fall. Temperature fluctuations have many, including myself, hopelessly optimistic about cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors, Labor Day festivities, and plenty of college football. Rather than looking forward to the sea of orange that fills Neyland Stadium on game day, others view September as the month prior to seasonal pumpkin treats (Starbucks fans rejoice!). While it is exciting to think all of the activities and festivities that occur during the month, it is worth mentioning that September runs the gauntlet for health awareness issues, such as Childhood Cancer Awareness; Blood Cancer Awareness; Ovarian Cancer Awareness; National Food Safety Education; Healthy Aging; National Childhood Obesity Awareness; Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN); and even National Yoga Awareness!

Your health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”1 To prevent disease, physically speaking, we all can do our part to eat our fair share of pumpkin treats (Kidding! Moderation is the key!). On a more serious note, taking care of our social well-being is key when we are stressed and overworked. When I need to decompress and reflect, I often reminisce about the fun times of playing Catch Phrase during the holidays or thinking of memories of staying up too late telling stories with friends. Of all places, the kitchen table was where these fun times occurred, and I often didn’t want to remove myself from the fun to cook or clean up the dishes. Yet, eating is a special event that allows us to further be in communion with those around us. If you should find yourself away from the table making a meal, why not try something easy like cooking with a crockpot?

If you are like me and want to find more time to be with your friends, while cooking at the same time, I recommend getting “crocky.” Yes, I’m creating a word, but stick with me for a moment. The art of getting “crocky” is the state of cooking in a crockpot (or slow cooker), while simultaneously enjoying one’s social environment, preferably in one’s home with or without a glass of wine. Crockpots are convenient, affordable, easy-to-use, and fun! There are numerous uses for crockpots that range from snack mixes to desserts. However, for the sake of our physical well-being, delicious nutritious crockpot cooking is key. If you are busy, tired and overwhelmed with work, crockpots may offer you an escape from the routine question of asking yourself, “What should I make for dinner?” Rocky Top, it is time to get “crocky!” Let’s make September the month to bring back the crockpots. Happy September, Crock Potters!

Caramelized Apple Slow Cooker Oatmeal


Want a hot and ready-to-eat oatmeal for breakfast?  Try this recipe!  You can simply make this before you go to bed and enjoy your freshly cooked oatmeal in the morning!




View recipe:

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

 soup-pic2Craving for soup? You can make it as simple as this recipe.  More importantly, it’s easy and delicious!



View recipe:

Company Pot Roast

pot-roast-picYou can’t leave pot roast out when cooking with your crock pot!  This recipe might take a little more time for preparation in advance, but it’s going to be well worth it.




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Snack: Pumpkin Nutella Slow Cooker Granola

 pumpkin-nutella-picIt’s Fall! You got to have pumpkin! Try this easy recipe with your crackpot to make your own seasonal granola.





View Recipe:


For More Crockpot Recipes Please Visit The Link Below:

  1. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.

img_11373Reston Hartsell Contact
UT Knoxville

Reston is a graduate student in the Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Health Sciences from Furman University in Greenville, SC. He is a dual graduate student seeking a Master’s of Science in Nutrition with a concentration in Public Health Nutrition and a Master’s of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education. His hobbies include cooking, ceramics, tennis, and being outside.

headshot-22 Tsz- Kiu Chui Contact
UT Knoxville

Kiu is originally from Hong Kong and is currently a graduate student pursuing her Master’s of Science degree in Public Health Nutrition at UT.  She’s also a registered dietitian, who practiced in both clinical and community settings, with a passion to inspire people to enjoy healthy food.  When Kiu is not in school, she’s probably traveling, making Chinese food or playing volleyball.

5 Recipes for Finding the Perfect Iced Tea

By Britton Sharp

As in the famous lyrics from Joni Mitchell, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” If my life had a soundtrack, that song would have been playing when I moved to Eastern Europe and had to bid farewell to the beloved beverage of my southern heritage.

Growing up, nothing tasted more like home than a glass of sweet iced tea from a Mason jar while sitting in a rocking chair. Rather than being defeated by the move overseas, this creative, transplanted southerner began to experiment to get just the right mix of home. I also discovered a few new recipes by adding a splash of fruit to my teas to go with the season.

My family’s last name is Sharp, but we’re a Lipton family when it comes to tea. I prefer Lipton for the classic tea experience. The recipes below come from several years of trial and error (I left out the error recipes), culminating in what my friends now refer to as “B’s Teas.”

I hope you enjoy them!

Classic Southern TeaClassic Southern Tea
Don’t mess with a good thing!
*Ingredients: Lipton tea bags (family size or individual), Optional: Sugar

  • Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add one, family size Lipton tea bag or four, individual Lipton tea bags.
  • Turn down the heat. Let the tea simmer until it’s a nice mahogany brown color. (Note: The darker the tea, the stronger the flavor.)
  • For sweet tea, add your preferred amount of sugar to a serving pitcher. (Note: Sugar In The Raw will give you a slightly earthier flavor, while regular granulated sugar will produce the usual, classic taste.)
  • Mix the tea into the serving pitcher—preferably over the kitchen sink—while the tea is still hot.
  • Place the finished tea in the fridge to cool. (Note: Tea must be stored in the fridge. If left too long in the sun or at room temperature, it will take on a slightly fermented flavor.)

Peach TeaPeach Tea
Great for summer parties.

*Ingredients: 8 bags Twinings English Breakfast Tea (red box), 1 to 2 quarts peach juice (usually found in juice aisle) and fresh or frozen sliced peaches, Optional: Sugar

  • Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add tea bags.
  • Turn down the heat. Let the tea simmer until it’s a nice walnut brown color, slightly darker than mahogany.
  • In a serving pitcher, mix peach juice to taste. For sweet tea, also add sugar to taste.
  • Pour the tea into the serving pitcher while the tea is still hot.
  • Place the finished tea in the fridge to cool. The longer the tea chills, the better it will taste so it is best if made the night before or a few hours ahead of time.
  • Before serving, add some frozen peaches to the pitcher or serving cups.

Blueberry TeaBlueberry Tea
Great for July 4, late summer or early fall parties.

*Ingredients: 8 bags Twinings English Breakfast Tea (red box), 1 to 2 quarts blueberry juice (usually found in juice aisle) and frozen or fresh blueberries, Optional: Sugar

  • Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add tea bags.
  • Turn down the heat. Let the tea simmer until it’s a nice walnut brown color, slightly darker than a mahogany.
  • In a serving pitcher, mix blueberry juice to taste. For sweet tea, also add sugar to taste.
  • Mix the tea into the serving pitcher while the tea is still hot.
  • Place the finished tea in the fridge to cool.
  • Before serving, add some frozen blueberries to the pitcher or serving cups.

Apple TeaApple Tea
Great for fall or winter parties.

*Ingredients: 4 bags Twinings English Breakfast Tea (red box), 4 bags Twinings Chai Spiced Tea (red box), 1 to 2 quarts apple juice, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and apple slices, Optional: Sugar

  • Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add Twinings English Breakfast tea bags and Twinings Chai Spiced tea bags.
  • Turn down the heat. Let the tea simmer until it’s a nice mahogany brown color. (Note: The darker the tea, the stronger the flavor. The apple tea recipe can handle a slightly stronger tea flavor than the classic tea recipe.)
  • In a serving pitcher, mix apple juice to taste. For sweet tea, also add sugar to taste.
  • Mix the tea into the serving pitcher while the tea is still hot.
  • This tea can be served cold or hot.
  • For a spiced flavor, add cinnamon sticks and a pinch of nutmeg before serving. Lightly coat some apple slices with lemon juice to prevent them from browning too quickly. Add apples to the tea.

Orange TeaOrange Tea
Great for late fall, winter or early spring parties.

*Ingredients: 8 bags Twinings Lady Gray Tea (blue box), 1 to 2 quarts pulp-free or low-pulp orange juice and orange slices

  • Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add tea bags. Lady Gray tea has hints of citrus that complement the orange juice.
  • Turn down the heat. Let the tea simmer until it’s a nice walnut brown color.
  • In a serving pitcher, mix pulp-free or low-pulp orange juice to taste.
  • Mix the tea into the serving pitcher while the tea is still hot.
  • You may chill this tea in the fridge or serve it hot.
  • Before serving, add some orange slices to the pitcher or serving cups.

Britton Sharp HeadshotBritton Sharp Website Contact
UT Knoxville, Campus Ministers Council, Collegiate Abbey

Britton is an artist, writer, gardener, husband and father. When he isn’t chasing toddlers with his wife, Brooks, you can find Britton writing in a coffee shop or water color painting downtown. As vice president of the Campus Ministers Council and director of Collegiate Abbey, he works to provide self-care resources to UT Knoxville faculty and staff.

Savor the Ordinary Moments

By Keith Carver

Our mailbox is overflowing. Six days a week our mailman brings a new batch of college recruitment material. We’re hearing from them all—big universities, small private colleges and all schools in between.

My daughter, Carson, is finishing up her junior year of high school and, perhaps like many of your children, planning for the next phase of her life. We are knee deep in the college admissions process.

It doesn’t seem possible. Our little girl has become a young woman overnight. Hollianne and I are trying to enjoy every day with her before she leaves for college in a year. I’ve realized how much I’ll miss having her in our home on a daily basis.

To celebrate this milestone, I’ve started collecting a list of the little things that I’ll miss about Carson. Included on my list are:

  • Watching her compete on the soccer field.
  • Enjoying her homemade chocolate chip cookies, often made late at night.
  • Watching her build the perfect s’more in our backyard fire pit.
  • Experiencing college football and basketball with her. Her commentary is always insightful and hilarious.
  • Seeing her enjoy her Bible studies with friends.
  • Hiking new trails as a family.
  • Attending concerts together.

I realized, however, that while this writing exercise is good for me, I need to make sure that I share these thoughts with Carson—right now.

While she certainly knows how much I love her, she also needs to hear it from me—right now.

Life is fleeting. We owe it to those we love to not only celebrate the big milestones in life, but the quiet, ordinary ones, too. These small moments and memories are what make our lives so special.

So, I encourage you to take time out of your day to share your thoughts with those close to you. They’ll appreciate it, and if you’re lucky…you might get a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies in return.

The Carver FamilyKeith Carver  Blog  Contact
UT System Administration

Keith is husband to an amazing woman and dad to three active children. He enjoys getting outdoors with his wife, Hollianne, fishing, watching his children play sports all over East Tennessee and reading biographies of historical figures. He currently serves as the executive assistant to UT President Joe DiPietro.

The Art of Sharing Your Art

By Synthia Clark

Do you have an artistic hobby you don’t want to keep to yourself anymore? Ever think about selling your artwork? Have you dreamed of seeing your art on the walls of galleries? How well do you handle rejection?

If you’ve thought through any or all of these questions, this blog post might be for you.

My medium is photography. For most of my life, I was pretty selfish regarding my work. There were several reasons for that. The process of taking photographs meant so much to me, not really the outcome of what I captured. Also, the outcome was mine, not something I wanted to explain to others. Finally, and most embarrassing of all, I was simply afraid of rejection.

Luckily, as I got older my conception of everything grew. I learned more about my craft by joining photography groups, taking courses and working for Austin Peay State University’s student newspaper as an undergraduate. I opened myself, and my work, up to criticism (both positive and constructive). And I began to see the benefit of sharing.

In 2013, after about a year of living in Knoxville, I took my next step by entering the photo contest at a local fair. I was extremely surprised and encouraged when I actually placed in a few different categories.

The next year, I entered more contests and joined the Knoxville-Area Photographers Meetup Group. Last year, I joined the Tennessee Artists Association (TAA) and Camera Club of Oak Ridge (CCOR). Through TAA, I took the leap into art shows. Simultaneously, I dove into my own business, The Little Things Photography.

Camera Club of Oak Ridge

My best advice is to become involved. One way is to join interest groups related to your medium. Doing so will provide you with learning opportunities and a network of individuals who have experience. When you feel ready to start applying (whether it’s a contest, show, festival, etc.), start your research early, read thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you get rejected—which will happen at some point—remember all judging is subjective. Rejection isn’t an acceptable excuse to give up. Oh, and consider your schedule because the art world frequently conflicts with standard working hours.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is how different the process is depending on what you’re doing. Contests, juried art shows, festivals/markets—they all have different methods, rules, timelines and outcomes. I’m still trying to figure out where I want to focus my efforts.

The last couple of years have greatly damaged my bank account, reinforced my time management skills, taught me a lot of lessons and made me feel a wide range of emotions.

I’ve endured everything from utter, devastated resignation when I showed up three hours early to set up at a festival, only to immediately break my tent and not make a single sale all day. To absolute, prideful joy when I made my first sale to a complete stranger.

Ultimately, I’m gratified to be putting myself out there and giving all of this a shot. It’s not easy, but it is interesting figuring out what you really want and meeting so many people along the way.

Synthia Clark Synthia Clark Contact  Website
UT Knoxville

Synthia works in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at UT Knoxville as an administrative support assistant and acts as webmaster, writer and photographer. She enjoys staying busy with hobbies like photography, travel and music.

Meet the Brimers: Spouses Share the Perks and Cons of Working Floors Apart

By John Lacey and Kate and Adam Brimer

Adam and Kate Brimer met while on assignment for the Knoxville News Sentinel. He was the photographer, she was the writer—and it ended up being a pretty good collaboration, if they do say so themselves. After years of working in the communications field, they are now both employees of the University of Tennessee.

They chatted about what it’s like to be married in the workplace, with offices just floors apart.

Q: How have you handled transportation to and from work?

Kate: We are trying our darndest to carpool because we both work in Andy Holt Tower, and so far it has worked! There’s some planning involved—like when one of us has an off-campus meeting or needs to go in early—but it hasn’t been too complicated. Once spring comes around, Adam will probably get back into his routine of biking to work.

Adam: Biking into work is great when the weather is nice. That involves biking to a bus stop near our house in North Knoxville, loading my bike on the rack, riding the bus from there to a stop close to downtown and then biking the rest of the way to the office. It’s a great way to squeeze in a little exercise on both ends of the workday, and the bus ride provides extra downtime to get some reading done for my graduate program.

Carpooling is convenient, but we spend a TON of time together when you think about it. While it provides an opportunity to talk about work, we try to limit those conversations and be more intentional about our time together.

Kate: I think we both miss having time to independently prepare for the day and decompress at day’s end. I typically use my commute to catch up with friends and family, and that’s harder now.

Adam: And I usually sing in the car during my commute, so that’s out the window. It also affects our eating habits during and after work. Kate’s good about packing her lunch (and remembering to bring it), so that holds me more accountable. On the other hand, it’s easier to talk each other into grabbing takeout on the ride home. Maintaining our healthy eating habits is one of the hardest parts.

Q: What’s social interaction like in the workplace?

Adam: It’s funny having co-workers tell us that they just saw our other half, or the fact that they know a bunch of stuff about you and your spouse that they normally wouldn’t.

Kate: This really comes into play for us because I work in Adam’s former office—literally in his cubicle, which is now endearingly referred to as “the Brimer Suite.” Aside from providing some comic relief, having co-workers who know us both has been flattering and fun.

Adam: It’s a lot of fun getting to see Kate during the day. Every now and then, we’ll eat lunch together or take a walk.

Q: There are lots of perks to working at UT—what’s your favorite?

Kate: Access to University libraries, hands down. As a graduate student I studied in Hodges all the time, but I didn’t have much time to read for fun. Now, Adam and I walk over at lunch and check out books from the leisure reading section. Which reminds me, I need to scope out the Pendergrass Leisure Reading Collection.

Adam: Being able to pursue a master’s degree using the UT employee tuition waiver is a huge benefit to me personally and professionally. I’m currently working on my master’s degree in strategic communication through UT Martin. It’s all online and is completed during personal time outside of work hours. It’s already been a great benefit to my job as a communicator at UT. Studying does eat up time that we’d normally be spending together, but we work around it.

Kate: One perk that we’re both looking forward to is having the same holiday/vacation schedule. Or better yet—snow days!

John LaceyJohn Lacey  Contact
UT System Administration

John is a UT graduate and currently works in the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing as a project manager. When he is not enjoying time with his wife and two children, you can find him riding his bike or dreaming up big ideas.

Adam BrimerAdam Brimer Contact
UT System Administration

Adam is a communications coordinator producing photos and videos for the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing. When he’s not at work, he’s probably baking bread, playing music or going for a run.

Kate BrimerKate Brimer Contact
UT Foundation

Kate is the online engagement coordinator for the UT Foundation. When she’s not at work, she’s coordinating her book club or spoiling their black lab.