Monday, January 26, 2015

What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

When I first heard that Friday was National Handwriting Day, I had several thoughts:

Thoughts like, Who comes up with these national "holidays"? Can I be that person? Does that same person also name the crayon colors at Crayola? What does your handwriting say about you? I don't dot my lowercase i's. Does this mean something weirdly terrible or fascinating about me?

I have some answers:

The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association created National Handwriting Day back in 1977. They chose January 23 "in conjunction with John Hancock's birthday" because, y'know, his name is the HUGE one on the Declaration of Independence. 

I can imagine the scenario perfectly. John Hancock signing the Declaration of Independence was like the first person to sign the "happy birthday" card or the "get well soon" card at the office/church/whatever party, and he turns around to a long line of people scowling at him for taking up all the space and practically writing a paragraph about how much he loves America just based on the sheer size of his name when there are 55 other dudes left to sign it. Then, the whole U.S.A. recognized him forever based upon that one embarrassing moment, and now there is a random holiday (sort of) in his honor.

Graphology is the name for the analysis of handwriting to determine facts about an individual--usually the person's psychological state at the time of writing, or certain personality traits. It's considered by most to be a pseudoscience, but nonetheless, you can get certified with a "Diploma Course in Forensic Graphology" (ooh, very fancy) from The Cambridge School of Graphology.

^ See, you can learn plenty of things about people from their handwriting, like if they are poor planners and run out of space on the paper. 

According to research from the National Pen Company, "writing the capital letter "I" much larger than other capitals is usually written by someone who is arrogant and has a high opinion of themselves." They also noted that, "writing that changes dramatically over the course of a text is symbolic of lying." They say that a signature that is not legible means "you are very private, hard to read or understand" while a legible signature means "you are comfortable in your own skin; you don't need to pretend you're something you're not." So--Obviously many doctors are private, hard to read or understand. 

As far as dotting i's goes -- According to John Cowens, a dot centered above the stem says you're "over-precise," a dot to the right of the stem says you "tend to act quickly or hastily," and no dot says you're reckless and/or have a poor memory.

I was going to say something else to finish off this post, but I forgot what it was.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 Quick-Fixes to Boost Energy

So winter is still a thing here in Missouri, and we've been seeing grey skies far more often than sunny days. It's so easy this time of year to feel groggy when you're missing out on all the Vitamin D and blue skies, so when it's 3 p.m. and you're feeling it, here are some food/drink options to help you through the mid-day slump. 

1. Water

Moms everywhere love to remind us to drink more water. Well, mom was right. According to the Mayo Clinic, the old "8 glasses a day" rule is still a good standby, but they have modified it to include 8 glasses of fluids. So, the whole detox water craze is good for this reason (encouraging people to drink more water), but I also don't feel bad about counting a cup of tea. (This is good news for me personally because I have a really hard time making myself drink enough water.)

2. Chocolate

Chocolate. There is a fact about chocolate, and it's that it tastes better than water. Experts recommend dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70% to tap into all of the magnesium that can be gained from this sweet snack. Like I learned last year, chocolate also helps to boost seretonin if you're feeling blue during the cold winter months.

3. Apple

Have you heard that there's as much caffeine in an apple as a cup of coffee? Well, that's a lie. But there is quite a bit of sugar in apples, so that is why people often think there is caffeine. Eating an apple boosts your energy while your body digests the fructose and therefore raises your blood sugar. Plus, they taste good.

4. Mixed Nuts

Aw, nuts, still feeling groggy?! (Sorry, I had to.) Nuts are great snacks because they're packed with protein and magnesium. Walnuts especially help with getting in your Omega 3 fatty acids--One serving is said to have as much as 90% of your daily intake of Omega 3. Read all about why Omega 3 is good for you here (but it's a Web MD article, so be careful not to click around too much on there and decide you have some incurable health problem.)

5. Coffee

If you've ever clicked around on She Learns Things, you know I'm a coffee-holic. (Proof here, here, here.) So of course I'm going to give coffee the last word on energy boosts. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory, but the important thing to remember is to be careful you don't drink too much coffee in the morning. Drinking one cup in the a.m. and one in the afternoon better distributes your energy so you don't have that infamous 3 p.m. crash and burn. 

Ok, well I'm going to go drink a mocha iced coffee (technically has water and chocolate in it, right?) and eat some apple pie and those sugar-walnut things they sell at the mall. Later, guys, but you can text me to hang out because I'm sure I'll have energy for days.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On Dreams, Failures, and A Beanstalk

This isn't the type of thing I typically post on here, but it seemed appropriate for the season, so here it is:

It’s year-end (OMG! Already?! Helloooooo, 2015!), so it’s time to evaluate and perhaps, to recalibrate. Sizing up how you’ve done this year can be daunting—I know it is for me. Often, New Years is met with eager anticipation and a tinge of anxiety. Whether you’re comparing yourself to another individual or to your own well-intended goals at the beginning of 2014, it’s time. You’re in the mindset of tallying your own intentions, actions, and results, and coming to a conclusion—a conclusion which will affect your self-esteem. Most likely, whether you end 2014 with a smile or a frown is more related to how optimistic you are on the 364 other days of the year, regardless of the looming December 31 on the calendar, but that’s a different essay for a different day. 

So I digress, to Jack and the beanstalk. Sure you know this story, and sure, you could summarize it pretty easily (as most Americans could). But when was the last time you really thought about Jack? Probably many years ago unless you’ve just seen Into the Woods, and then maybe you’ve recently given him a little more thought. In classic literature, the fairy tale version of Jack is a little less heroic than one might remember. Jack has a slew of failures throughout his story beginning with the sale of his beloved cow, Milky White. Milky White was Jack’s family’s source of food, and by some estimates, Jack’s best friend. Now a boy who would sell his best friend for 5 “magic” beans with no empirical evidence to prove their magic-ism is, by my estimate, not the smartest. His mother seemed to feel the same way, scolding him for his poor decision making, sending poor Jack to bed without supper, and throwing the useless beans into the family’s garden. Meanwhile, the beanstalk begins to grow overnight. The next day, Jack explores the new world that’s developed outside his window, and continues to make mistake after mistake. He steals from the giants, returns home, ascends the beanstalk again to steal again, finally kills the giant (not in the David-and-Goliath beautiful and courageous sense) and time after time proves that he isn’t the hero we’ve all been waiting for. Jack is a thief, yet he remains the protagonist to the story.

Whether or not Jack is a worthy protagonist could be argued, but it would be futile. At the end of the day, are any of us worthy protagonists? If I read a book about a character like myself, I would do a lot of eye-rolling and scoffing. But the part that makes me pause in Jack’s story comes before the beanstalk. It’s when Jack is in bed, alone and crying. For Jack, that moment stood still, feeling like an eternity, while the audience knows the beanstalk is growing just outside the window.

As Jack is crying, feeling hopeless, regretting his decisions (on an empty stomach, no less), that is when the magic happens. Jack’s poverty is dwarfed, quite literally, by a whole new world gleaming of gold. In the night, Jack had absolutely no idea what treasures would come with the new day. He thought his moment of despair was an eternity of despair, yet he was so wrong. 

So now, as I’m ending 2014 and beginning to begin again, I’m thinking of Jack. I think of Jack when I feel a loss. When I feel alone, when I feel like I’ve failed, when I’ve given up my best and gotten nothing in return, even when I’ve made the wrong choices. When you’re feeling down, remember to look up. Because in that moment, you’ll never guess what beanstalk might be growing.

Thanks for sticking with me through 2014, friends! I'm looking forward to next year and the beanstalks we can climb together. :)

P.S. If you're into this type of thing, I've written some more like it on Medium.