Share Fresh Produce Through the Grow More, Give More Program

By Carrera Romanini

I love to spend time in my garden. I find it doubly satisfying to share with others in need. With the Grow More, Give More (GMGM) program, I can do both.

GMGM and the UT Farmer’s Market opened earlier this month, celebrating the growing season and sharing with others. GMGM is a UT Institute of Agriculture and Society of St. Andrew service project designed to bring fresh, local produce to our neighbors in need. Agencies that feed the hungry indicate that their organizations have a need to supplement their canned donations with fresh veggies. A secondary aim of this program is to reduce food waste.

How do you GMGM?
Each week, GMGM volunteers talk to market-goers about the program and collect produce donations. To participate in the program, plant a little extra in your garden or pick up an extra pound or two at the farmer’s market. GMGM has a booth set up where you can bring your produce, chat with volunteers and learn where your donation will go that night. At the end of each Wednesday, volunteers take the donated produce to local food banks. Examples of organizations that we have donated to include Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries, Love Kitchen, Salvation Army, Samaritan Place and many others.

Where You Can Find Us
GMGM runs in conjunction with the UT Farmer’s Market, each Wednesday from 4–7 p.m., May 11 through Oct. 19, 2016. You can find us under the big green tent. The market is held in the UT Gardens, the official botanical gardens for the state of Tennessee, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive in Knoxville.

If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the program, email us at gmgm@tennessee.edu or like us on Facebook.  You also can follow the GMGM blog to see where the day’s produce was donated and to see photo updates and the weekly total of donations received.

Let’s Work Together
No donation is too small because it all adds up! We’ve received donations from the most delicate of herbs to rare vegetables and handfuls of cherry tomatoes, up to bushel baskets of tomatoes, whole watermelons, bags of green beans and everything in between.  Last season, we collected 2,230 pounds, which equates to 6,690 servings of fresh produce donated to our hungry neighbors. This summer, set a goal for yourself to spend more time outside, plant a little more in your garden for those in need and share the bounty of your harvest through the Grow More, Give More program.


Carrera RomaniniCarrera Romanini  Contact
UT Institute of Agriculture

Carrera is a Grow More, Give More volunteer who likes to explore all that Knoxville has to offer and to spend time with friends. When she’s not out and about, you can find her in the garden or kitchen.  She and her husband live with two, four-legged friends (a cat and dog), and they foster retired racing greyhounds. She currently serves as the communications coordinator for AgResearch. 

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Still My Hero

By Susan Robertson

As it is with most little girls, my dad was my first hero. I am the third of four children, and I always tell people I was my dad’s son before my brother was born. He taught me to throw a baseball, punt a football and even taught me to sew a dress for my Barbie doll.

My dad passed away in September 2012, but because of his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease in 2001, we gradually said goodbye to him over the course of 11 years. I lived out of state during that time but visited my parents at least monthly. And watching my father succumb to this horrible disease was one of the most difficult things I’ve experienced.

Most often Alzheimer’s is associated with the loss of memory. I never think it is funny when someone forgets something and then jokes, “I must have Alzheimer’s.” There is nothing funny about that disease. It truly robs sufferers of everything—from memory to the ability to speak to dignity. My father’s Alzheimer’s started with paranoia—thinking people were coming into the house and changing the times on the clocks or moving things from one location to the next. That was followed by the loss of his ability to process information and although he still remembered us, he often talked about going to see his mom and dad (who had both passed years earlier).

As with most Alzheimer’s patients, my dad started to wander. He would pace endlessly around the house all day and much of the night. One night he even climbed out his bedroom window and walked more than a mile to a nearby recreation area. Thankfully, some neighbors who had gone to the area to walk the next morning spotted him and brought him home. It was after that incident that my mother had all of the windows nailed closed from the inside. She also added alarms to each entry door so dad couldn’t go outside without her knowing it; and added baby locks on the cabinets after dad ate a dishwashing tablet thinking it was candy.

Alzheimer’s caused my dad to become very childlike. He liked playing with and holding toy cars. On one visit, I was in the backyard walking around with him when he picked up an acorn and threw it at me. When I turned around, he just grinned impishly. I was crying inside, but I just had to smile because that is something my dad would have done before the disease. While dad was very different and needed around-the-clock care, he was still very much my dad.

The disease also took a toll on my mother who was dad’s caregiver. Not only was it emotional to deal with the fact that your husband of 50-plus years was no longer the same, it wore on her to have to make sure she knew where he was 24/7. One of the things I say to anybody who is a caregiver is you have to take care of yourself! Stress plays havoc with our overall health. Mom finally agreed to have a home health worker visit three days a week, and one of my sisters moved in with my parents to help care for dad. My other siblings and I gave my mom and sister breaks on the weekend so they could be away from the house while we would watch dad. It only made sense that the weekends I was visiting, I would toss the ball with dad. It was just like old times—sort of.

I wish that no one would have to deal with this disease—no individual and no family. But the truth is that today, 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; the disease is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.; and every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disease, all according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

My paternal grandfather and my father both had Alzheimer’s, so I’ve read a lot of research about how to prevent the disease. Unfortunately, no one can pinpoint the exact cause. Researchers have identified many things such as environment, diet, etc., but currently there is no cure.

It was about 10 months before my dad passed, Christmas of 2011, when I realized for the first time he didn’t know who I was. That was extremely tough to accept, but it was not about me. My dad was very different from the man I knew as my first hero, but in my heart he was still my dad.


Susan RoberstonSusan Robertson  Contact
UT Institute for Public Service

Susan handles communications for the UT Institute for Public Service. She enjoys spending time outdoors—hiking and documenting the natural beauty of East Tennessee through photography. Susan loves watching all sports, reading, cooking and fulfilling the needs of her demanding miniature dachshund, Wrigley.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

A Trial-By-Error Smoothie and Juice Adventure

By Lili’a Uili Neville

I love Netflix binges. I am a sucker for binging on documentaries because I rationalize that learning new things justifies spending an entire Sunday afternoon glued to the couch.

About three years ago, my husband and I had a weekend where we binged on food-related documentaries. Of the numerous ones we watched, “No Impact Man: The Documentary,” “Forks Over Knives,” and “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” were our favorites. While I highly recommend all three, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead sparked a smoothie and juice adventure in our kitchen.

The documentary follows an Australian man as he travels across the United States. He juice fasts for 60 days and then adopts a plant-based diet. We had never made smoothies or juices but were inspired to give them a shot.

To Include or Not to Include Fiber

We didn’t have a blender or juicer and really didn’t even know the difference, so our journey began with research.

We found that blenders don’t filter anything out. Everything that goes into the blender ends up in the juice or smoothie. Juicers pulverize whatever you put in and separate solids from liquids, so only the juice comes out.

There really isn’t a definitive answer about whether blending or juicing is better. In my opinion, it’s best to do some research on blending versus juicing and make a decision based on your dietary needs or preference. My husband needs a high-fiber diet, so we opted for the blender. Plus, I have a beverage preference for frozen margaritas!

Vitamix was the most highly recommended blender at the time—and probably still is—but was out of our price range. The Ninja brand of blenders had great reviews, too, and my husband’s coworker vouched for its quality and reliability.

Ninja Mega Kitchen System
Ninja Mega Kitchen System

I waited patiently for a sale and finally bought a Ninja Mega Kitchen System. I chose the kitchen system over other models because it has a built-in food processor and includes a 72-ounce blender pitcher, eight-cup food processor bowl and two, 16-ounce blender cups.

 

 

The adventure really began once we got the blender. We began by blending random veggies and fruits and forcing ourselves to drink every gross concoction we produced.

That was a bad idea that led to a lot of gagging—but also a lot of laughing!

Eventually, our trial-by-error method produced recipes that actually tasted good. But I really don’t recommend this hit-or-miss approach. I’m a big Pinterest user and recommend the site for finding smoothie and juice recipes. You can find healthy smoothies for breakfast, juice recipes for detox, smoothie ingredient “formulas,” or follow a juice and smoothie board.

Protein Smoothie Recipe

As a vegetarian and distance runner, I’m very mindful of my protein intake. I need to consume at least 60 grams of protein—especially on long-run days—so I have to be intentional about replenishing lost nutrients.

My smoothies always include a scoop of Garden of Life Raw Organic Chocolate Protein Powder. I like this brand because it’s vegan and better tasting than other protein powders I’ve tried. If you don’t need the extra protein, you can skip it or swap it for another supplement, such as flax or chia seed.

Ingredients:
1 banana
15 ounces plain Greek yogurt (Peach and strawberry are also yummy)
8 ounces Soy milk (Any type of milk is fine)
1 scoop Garden of Life Raw Organic Chocolate Protein Powder
2 to 4 ice cubes

Directions:
Put all ingredients in a 16 ounce blender cup. Blend. (Makes a 16-ounce smoothie drink.)

Veggie Juice Recipe

My husband loves chicken fingers, Taco Bell, Philly Cheese steaks and basically all unhealthy foods. He eats a vegetarian and (mostly) clean-eating diet at home, but he always splurges on meat and a deep-fried something-or-other side when we eat out. Since he’s prone to indulging in unhealthy foods, he likes to make veggie juices to ensure he’s getting essential vitamins—before he demolishes a large french fry.

He drinks each 72-ounce batch within 24 to 36 hours because there are no preservatives. Therefore, the juice can spoil. You can add most any veggies to this drink, but I caution against tomatoes, broccoli and carrots because the taste and/or texture gets funky. The sweetness of the apple and pineapple juice offsets the veggie flavors, so you don’t need to add honey, agave nectar or other sugar or sweeteners. Also, use natural apple juice and pineapple juice to avoid high-fructose corn syrup.

Ingredients:
1 banana
1 washed Romaine heart (can swap for kale)
1 washed green or yellow squash (or both if they are small)
1 washed cucumber
Apple Juice
Pineapple Juice

Directions:
Put all ingredients in a 72-ounce blender pitcher. (You may need to give the veggies a rough chop to fit them into the blender.) Fill the pitcher ¾ full with apple juice. Fill the remaining space in the blender with pineapple juice. Blend. (Makes 72 ounces of veggie juice.)

An Ongoing Adventure

Blending smoothies or juice is now a staple in our weekly meal plan. Sometimes I toss in a random fruit or veggie just for kicks, but mainly we stick to our trusted recipes or new ideas from Pinterest. I hope you’re inspired to give them a try, too!


 

Lili'a HeadshotLili’a Uili Neville Contact
UT Knoxville

Lili’a Uili Neville is a runner, environmentalist and health nut. Lili’a is the communications director in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity at UT Knoxville. When she’s not at work, she is underestimating how long it will take her to complete a craft project, telling funny stories about her dog and cat or having a classy date night with her husband.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Protect Your Mental Real Estate

By Stefani Mundy

My close friend is trying to lose weight and has begun an exercise and nutrition plan. She recently referred to herself as “fat” and followed with, “And don’t say it’s not true because it is.”

With respect and love I responded, “Just because something is true, does not mean we give it power over us. Is it true you created a plan, are exercising and have lost some weight? Would you say you’re facing toward weight loss and away from former habits?”

She smiled and agreed.

“Calling yourself fat is a negative investment for you,” I continued. “Close the account on that thought. No more investing! Every time you think that negative thought, replace it with a positive truth. The positive truths are investments in the goal instead of the problem.”

Consider the mind as your most valuable asset. Stimuli are constantly fighting for precious space in your consciousness, including internal thoughts and externally spoken messages.

Thoughts as a Stock Exchange
The scrolling ticker screen at the New York Stock Exchange is a great analogy for the mind. Constantly scrolling during trading hours, human choices determine which stocks thrive and grow in our mental space. Likewise, our brains are always on, and we have the power to invest in thoughts that provide positive returns. Humans can fall prey to judgmental thinking and have what I call negative investment thoughts that create barriers to goals, relationships and life effectiveness.

Thoughts and Relationship Bankruptcy
The positive or negative thoughts we hold about others can build large accounts or cause relationship bankruptcy.

Our thinking itself can decrease the trust and intimacy with a friend, colleague or family member. Judging, making assumptions, holding grudges and replaying past wrongs are just a few examples of negative investment thinking.

Positive investment thinking in relationships includes withholding judgement, listening to understand, forgiving and offering a “tabula rasa” or blank slate. Offering a blank slate is approaching each interpersonal interaction with the mind new, unmarked or uninfluenced by past interactions or knowledge.

7-7-7 Challenge
Experts regularly suggest that building a habit takes at least 21 days. Join this 7-7-7 Challenge for 3 weeks (28 days total) by observing your internal and external dialogues.

  • Week One: Observe your “scrolling ticker screen” of thoughts for seven days. What do you think and say about yourself? Are your thoughts negative or positive investments? Try to capture thoughts and label them as negative, positive or neutral.
  • Week Two: Repeat the activity again, but this time only observe your thoughts about others.
  • Week Three: Observe your thoughts about yourself and others for seven days. Practice replacing a negative thought with a neutral or positive thought that is true. This process could be uncomfortable at first but gradually becomes a simple method to maximize the valuable real estate in your mind.

Stefani MundyStefani Mundy Contact
UT Institute for Public Service

Stefani is a UT graduate and currently works in the UT IPS Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership as a training specialist. When she’s not planning leadership training, you can find her planting flowers or brainstorming creative ideas to improve lives.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Guardians of Her Heart

By Erica Jenkins 

My grandmother was one of the strongest women I know, with a big heart to match. She never had more than a high school diploma, but she worked hard and became an accessories buyer for a Knoxville department store, traveling to New York to pick out hats, handbags and gloves for local shoppers.

She never missed work, even if she was sick, and her response to the question: “How are you doing Norma Jean?” was always, “Just fine, thank you.”

Widowed at 42, she raised two daughters by herself and put them both through college.

She could be a tough talker, but she always had a kind word and an extra $20 to discreetly slip to someone who was struggling.

My grandmother was a strong woman, but her heart began to fail as she aged. In her 60s, a routine gynecological appointment led to diagnosis of an irregular heartbeat. A decade later, she developed heart failure.

After a hospital scare that left my grandmother struggling to breathe as her heart failed to fully contract, my mom and aunt became the guardians of my grandmother’s heart. They teamed up to manage her medications and keep track of her health on a daily basis. They attended doctor’s appointments, so when my grandmother assured the doctor she was just fine, they could remind her of all the times she was short of breath.

My grandmother’s final retirement was from WalMart at age 83, at which time she took an extended vacation that lasted five years to my aunt’s house in Florida. Every day, my aunt would send my mom a report of my grandmother’s weight and blood sugar. She cooked my grandmother heart-healthy meals that were low in sodium and high in fruits and vegetables. And every once in a while, my aunt would sneak her dessert, as long as my grandmother promised not to tell my mom.

Thanks to my mom and my aunt watching out for my grandmother’s heart, I had 23 years of memories with her. Memories of her ignoring my mom’s glare while she let me guzzle an entire Coke, memories of her hugging me at my high school graduation and telling me how proud she was, and finally, memories of me holding her hand as my grandmother’s heart became too tired to beat.

February is American Heart Month, and heart disease is the number one killer of women.

My grandmother was able to live for nearly 30 years with heart disease because the women who loved her most protected her heart.

I hope that this month, you will learn about the signs of heart disease and encourage the women you love to live a healthy lifestyle and schedule regular doctor’s visits. That’s the commitment I’ve made to the women in my life.


Erica Jenkins HeadshotErica Jenkins  Contact
UT System Administration

Erica joined the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing in 2011 and currently serves as public relations associate, specializing in measurement and analytics and managing communication planning for government relations and advocacy initiatives. When she’s not involved in community and campus organizations, Erica enjoys deep sea fishing with her family and working on mu

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Finding time to exercise – can you spare 10 minutes?

By Brian Hester 

As I have gotten older, finding time or motivation to exercise has been an increasingly difficult task.  During my college and younger adult years, there seemed to be plenty of time to fit in a 1-2 hour workout nearly every day.   Nowadays, having a full-time job, completing a PhD and helping my wife raise our 4 year old all take priority over daily fitness.

However, I’ve learned that skipping exercise – even just few days – can have negative consequences that will set me back.  This is especially true in the winter months, when I have even more excuses to skip daily exercising due to shorter daylight, cold, rain, sleet or snow.  If I miss several days of weight-bearing activity during these colder months, I am much more apt to pull a muscle, especially in my back.  When this happens, I am out of commission for at least a couple of days, if not longer. Finding a way to prevent this is a necessity to keep from missing work, falling behind in dissertation writing or missing out on the joys of helping my son with his daily adventures as he learns and grows.

So, what I have discovered – through wiser friends or the internet – is that when it comes to exercising in the winter, or any time throughout the year, less is more.  If I know that if I’m only going to spend 10 minutes a day “working out,” I’m much more likely to allocate this time to fitness and stick to it.   Therefore, my daily cardio and weight workouts have evolved to climbing the stairs at work or using just my own body instead of a gym for core weight-bearing workouts like pushups and crunches, and finding quick five to 15-minute exercise breaks that are most convenient and least likely to be interrupted from work, school or family commitments.  I have broken these times up into roughly four five-minute breaks during the work day hours and 10-15 minutes at home right after work.

At work, twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon (say at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.) I find five minutes to climb the stairs.  I do 10 flights in three minutes – I’m out of breath at the top but not broken into a sweat.  This covers my cardio for the day.  I know you are supposed to get 20-30 minutes and break a sweat, but hey, this is better than nothing.  For weight bearing activity, every day when I get home after work, I spend a grand total of 10 minutes that starts with simple stretches (check out YouTube for tons of good examples), then I do 100 pushups and 50 crunches.  This may sound like a lot to some people (or laughably little to others), but, believe me, you can work up to this amount in  a few weeks.   Supplementing this, three-days-a-week I mix in bicep curls with dumbbells (whatever weight that allows you to just barely finish a set of 10 reps), shoulder shrugs, and wrist curls.  I can get three sets of these exercises done in five minutes. During one week, this equals 15 minutes of exercise time at home on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and just 10 minutes on the other four days.

I will assuredly not win any body-building or feats-of-strength competitions with this routine, but I have found that my long-term health and mood greatly benefit from this small amount of daily physical activity.  Yes, there are still those times when my back will go on a 24-hour strike, like after moving heavy objects or throwing Nicholas up in the air for the 20th time he’s requested it, but during the past five years that I’ve followed this routine, I have not had any back pain issues that have lingered more than a day.  Even more amazing, my annual physical exams have consistently resulted in my doctor being fooled into saying, “You must work out a lot!”


 

Brian Hester and his son Nicholas
Brian Hester with his son Nicholas

Brian Hester Contact
UT System Administration

Brian is the Assistant Director of Institutional Research for the UT System.  He is husband to Alice – a physician’s assistant at East TN Children’s Hospital, and father to Nicholas – who just turned 4 in January 2016.   Brian loves to read – anything on parenting and child development and fiction novels, when he can find the time.  As a family, they enjoy outdoor activities including hiking and fishing, and lots of sports – Brian currently is coaching a 4-5 year old basketball team, on which son Nicholas plays.

 

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.