Author Archives: workingspirit

HAUNTED HOUSE Halloween Dance

The Peer Educators are working with Walsh Hall to host a Halloween Dance in the Memorial Union Loading Dock on Halloween Night (Wednesday, Oct. 31st).

The event includes:
• FREE Pizza Ranch
• Costume Competition- prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place
• Scariest Fish Bowl decorating competition (prize for 1st place)
o Includes a beta fish, , fish plant, etc.
• Scariest Haunted House building competition (prize for 1st place)

Bring your camera! There will be a haunted cemetery for picture taking!

Program starts at 8PM in the Loading Dock and runs until 11PM.

See you there!


Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

“Have you touched your computer keyboard today? Turned a door handle? Used the break room microwave? If you’ve done any of the above, you’ve come into contact with at least twice as many germs as are found on the average toilet seat.” (Occupational Health & Safety, 2012)

As cold and flu season settles in across campus, it is remarkably easy to come in contact with viruses that cause seasonal illness. Knowing that unseen germs are waiting lends motivation to take preventative action now.

Cleaning frequently touched surfaces is one way to cut down on the number of cold and flu germs that are passed from one student or co-worker to another. While true, the flu can be a though virus to avoid. The flu can travel through the tiny droplets that are created when we talk, cough, or sneeze and can reach us up to 6 feet away (Occupational Health & Safety, 2010). In fact, the flu can be spread up to 24 hours before the infected person is showing symptoms.

So how do we avoid the flu? Here is what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has to say:

1. Get the flu shot right now. How? Make an appointment at Student Health Services by calling 701-777-4500 or online here:
Don’t wait to get vaccinated until everyone around you is sick. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies to develop in your body and to offer protection.
2. Wash up. Your hands should be washed often and scrubbed with soap and water for a full 20 seconds. Research is showing that we’re not washing our hands long of enough (most of us only 5-15 seconds), sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice, give yourself a pep-talk for the text you’re getting ready for, or think through what you just covered in class. Anything that will help you keep scrubbing for that full 20 seconds.
3. Keep sanitizer hand. We’ve tried to help by having some all throughout campus- we put it there for you, take advantage of it! Hand sanitizer won’t clean the dirt off of your hands, but the alcohol-based rub is an option when soap and water aren’t handy.
4. Keep hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth brings germs into your body.
5. Clean up. When was the last time you cleaned the key board on your laptop? How about the light switch in your room? The front door of where you live? Your cell phone (just think of how many table tops, desks, etc. you have set that thing down on?!)?
6. Avoid close contact with ill people. Avoid shaking hands or coming in close contact.
7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. So many times we just keep pushing through our day even when we are not feeling well. Listen to your body. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, and be mindful of what you eat- eating nutritious food aids your body in its ability to fight infection if a virus invades your body.
8. Cover your cough. If you find yourself coming down with something, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to help keep germs from spreading to those around you.
9. If you’re sick, stay home. Showing up at work or to class but being unproductive because of illness not only does little for you, but puts everyone around you at risk for becoming ill as well. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that workers stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have respiratory symptoms and a fever of 100F degrees or more.

Want more information? Here are some great sources:
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Seasonal Flu Information for Businesses & Employers,”
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs,”
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “How Flu Spreads,”
4. Bradley Corporation, “Healthy Handwashing Survey,”
5. Kimberly-Clark Professional, “The Healthy Workplace Project,”
6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Business Planning,”

Flu Shots- It’s not too late!

Forgot to get your flu shot last week? Yeah, I did too… Luckily, it’s not too late. Student Health Services does an awesome traveling flu clinic which makes it very convenient to get your shot. Their schedule is below.

I’ve always been the type who never bought into the whole flu shot thing… I had always thought that I never got the flu so why would I get the shot? Did you know symptoms of the flu are actually what you and I call the common cold? I had no clue. At least a few times a year, I get that dang cold that’s super annoying. I’m all stuffed up when I go to bed and have to breath through my mouth, which I can’t stand. I’d cough all through class, making it hard for everyone around me to hear… I’m completely exhausted, and of course I can’t forget the sore throat… and well, you know what I’m talking about.

Now that I know the flu shot can help me avoid all of that, I’m game!

Are you game? If not, here’s some more good information about the flu:

Traveling Flu Shot Clinic

Tuesday Oct. 9:  Med School Rm 5006 9AM-11AM
Wednesday, Oct 10: Facilities Cottonwood Rm 6:30AM-8:30AM
Wednesday, Oct 10:  Health & Wellness Hub (Memorial Union) 12:30PM-2:30PM
Thursday, Oct 11:  Odegard Rm 150 8:30AM-10:30AM
Thursday, Oct 11: EERC Stevens Maximillian Rm 12PM-2PM

Bring your ID card and your Insurance card if you want to file insurance. The cost is $35. Otherwise go to Student Health Services in McCannel Hall (right behind the Union) anytime between now and the rest of the semester to schedule an appointment.

P.S. Peek flu season is October-November- avoid it while you still can!

butt chugging

yep, you read that right, butt chugging, or alcohol enemas… it is hard to believe that someone would take alcohol and put it in their butt to try and get a buzz or get dunk faster. it doesn’t end there though, people are also soaking tampons in alcohol and then applicating them. …here’s another kicker, “eye shots”. filling a shot glass full of alcohol and putting your eye on it, then tipping it back and opening your eye so the alcohol hits your eyeball…an eye shot. i can’t believe it yet i have to because it is the reality of what is happening.

more? unfortunately, i have it. last week someone told me that they did 16, (one six, sixteen!) shots in one hour once… i looked them dead in the eye and said, “you’re lucky to be alive” and i meant it. in the end (since they are not yet an alcoholic) the only reason they are still alive is because your body makes you puke a heck of a lot when you put that much alcohol in your body all at once. puking it back up is what saved him… but two things concerned me (okay, probably more than two) one was that this person did NOT go to the hospital (yet another reason why they are lucky to be alive) and finally, how do you think 16 shots in one hour is okay?!!! where in the world does that come from?

so here’s what scares me most- if you drink those same 16 shots over the course of say four hours, you are definitely dead. so how do i teach people about that? tell ‘em to try and take as many shots as you can in hour to see who wins? nope…not going there. see how many you can take over the course of a night (and not die)? nope, not going there either.

what will it take for people to understand what is going on when these things are tried? even if you’re already drunk, even if the guy or gal standing next to you did it once and still seems to standing there, alive and just fine, doesn’t mean you should do it too.

There’s safer ways to get a buzz than butt chugging.

just sayin’


let’s face it, there are certain topics that are awkward to bring up…questions we always wonder about but are too embarrassed to ask… and, well, the list goes on. SEX is usually high on that list of awkward things we wonder about but may not actually ask anyone the questions we have.

so here’s what’s up, tonight (Wednesday, September 26th) there is this SEX IN THE DARK program happening at 7PM. It’s in the Memorial Union, in the RiverValley room (second floor) and anyone can come.

the lights will be off, you can ask any sexual or relationship health question you want, and experts will answer it. yep, they can’t see who asked the question. OR, if you don’t want to shout out questions like “what are dental dams used for?” “are there risks with anal sex?” or “how do I tell my partner that I want to try something new?”, there will be slips of paper that you can write your questions down on and we’ll answer them that way.

so who are these experts, you may be wondering? we have a Doctor and a Nurse Practitioner (one is a gal and one is a guy so we have someone who can speak from those two perspectives) from Student Health Services to answer these questions.

no, we’re not asking you to go out and have sex, we’re just here to answer any questions that you have (whether you’re sexually active or not). all in all, we wanna make sure that you know how to reduce the harms that can come with not taking sex seriously- even if sex for you is years from now.

see you tonight!!


666 and “The S Question”

I will never forget the days that I saved someone’s life. Yep, days. Plural. I’m fortunate enough to have had that experience more than once. It’s an odd thing to call fortunate, but when it comes to saving someone’s life, I guess I can’t say much less than fortunate.

I don’t have a job where I run into burning buildings. And I don’t come screeching onto scene with lights and sirens blaring. And I’m not out at war trying to save the limb or the life of someone who put their life on the line for the sake of our country. These may not be my job, and they may have each once been careers I’ve seriously considered, but I don’t spend my day to day life saving lives.
The night I saved a man’s life and learned smack dab in the middle of the situation that the apartment number he lived in was 666, is a night that changed my life forever.

Suicide is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart.

What I have learned through experience is that when someone is suicidal it is likely that the person that they will reach out to when they are at their rock bottom is their best friend. The only problem with this is that most of us are not trained and, frankly, have no clue what to do in that situation. You may think that you’ll never be that person that someone confides in….but that’s usually when it happens: when we least expect it. So here are some things that you should know.

Suicide is a process, not a sudden decision. If someone mentions suicide to you or you are noticing signs, don’t take it lightheartedly. If they are mentioning it to you or you see signs, they have likely been thinking about it for quite some time and may even have a plan. Talk to them about it. Talking about it will not increase their likelihood of acting on these thoughts.

Two key elements lead to suicide: 1) a sense of being a burden to others, and 2) Feeling of hopelessness. Think of a time when you felt like you were a burden to someone…. It is a terrible feeling. Now think about a time where you were in a situation that just felt hopeless, you had no idea how to deal with it, and everything you have been trying just isn’t working…. We all go through these feelings, but when someone is feeling suicidal, they feel this way all of the time. Day in, day out, nearly 24-7.

Remember that everyone deals with stress differently, and stress looks different for each person. Something that may seem like “no big deal” to you may be one of the hardest experience another person may have ever been through.

Avoid minimizing the issue or the struggle(s) the person is experience. Instead, normalize their feelings. Tell the person it is okay for them to feel the way that they feel. That one sentence alone can provide tremendous relief. Suicide is not the root of the problem, but a reaction to the problem. Telling someone that the way they feel is okay will make them feel like it is okay that they are experiencing something really difficult. Helping them to understand that they are not alone in their struggles helps them to see that other have serious struggles also and that what they are experiencing is something others can relate to also.
Know your resources. Off the top of your head, who could you reach out to for help ? Hopefully the University Counseling Center, the Women’s Center, University Police, Suicide hotlines, your RA, etc. all come to mind for you. Even if it is three in the morning, someone is still available to help. You are not responsible for saving your friends life alone. Seek help.
“The S Question”. If you ever just think, even to the slightest degree, that someone might be suicidal, ACT!!!! Ask the “S Question”: Are you thinking of killing yourself? Tips:
Show and state that you care. Say that you want to help. Keep in mind that they may not understand why you care or why you are willing to help. They are likely in a mindset where all they can see is themselves as a burden to others, including you. The best part, though, is that you don’t have to have a reason to care about someone. Caring just because you do is enough.
Avoid asking the “S Question” like this: “you’re not thinking of killing yourself, are you?” Asking in this way tells them that you can’t handle it if this is what they are thinking, and it tells them that the way they feel is not something they should share. Instead, ask very openly and directly if they are thinking of hurting or killing themself.
Choosing whether or not to ask the “S Question” may mean the difference between life and death. Always ask, even if you’re unsure.
So here’s the million dollar question: but what if I ask and they say yes!!!??!??! Openly state that you do not want them to hurt or kill themselves. Allow yourself to have a genuine response- they will study your face for your reaction more so than they will the words that you speak. If you feel like you want to burst into tears, let yourself. If you want to hug them, let yourself.
Assume nothing. Commit to helping. Call for help so that you are not trying to handle the situation alone. Do whatever it takes to get them help. Ask them who else should know that they are in this much pain. Ask yourself, and ask them, what will it take to get them through until they can get further help.
Take care of yourself. Working with someone who is suicidal will be one of the most powerfully emotional experiences you will ever have. Pay attention to what YOU need and make sure that you need to deal with your response to the situation.

You have an influence. You may save someone’s life. Get prepared now so that when (I won’t say if but when) you find yourself in a situation like this you are ready to act.
The information in this post came mainly from “Counseling Suicidal People: A Therapy of Hope” by Paul G. Qunnett. Please contact me if you want to learn more.

Shut Down Clean Up

I’ve been active my whole life (most of it, I was “too active”, always on the go as a kid, probably driving all the adults around me nuts) and while life has forced me to slow down a few times with injuries, etc., and I’ve taken up many hobbies, I am still a bit of a busy body. I didn’t realize how much I go to the Wellness Center some weeks until cleaning week came around where they shut down for a week to really really clean everything (it was cool to walk in there for a work meeting and see everything in pieces- literally -says the fix-it gal :P). Monday night I wanted to go walk the track after work, I’ve had the same thought pop up in my mind twice for after work tonight. I wanted to go do TaeKwon-Do last night, and have had an itch to ride the bike and read with some excellent music….

I’m thankful that we have this facility to use, especially as University staff. The type of stuff that I like to do, which I get exercise from simply in that I am out doing and moving around, well…Just isn’t around here. Grand Forks is a big city for North Dakota, but it’s not in terms of the US. I still show up to a bunch of the local events and thoroughly enjoy them, but it isn’t the same kind of out and about as I loved so much while I was in Milwaukee. And I can’t just jump on my four wheeler on the farm back home and get rid of extra energy up here. Some nights the Wellness Center is THE thing to do.

TGIF- an alcohol slogan?!?!

i presented today on alcohol and other drugs, cause, well, that’s what i get to do at work 🙂 anyway, Jim Murphy, he’s an awesome guy who works in the counselor’s center here on campus, went after me about the stuff he does and it was great. he had everyone laughing within minutes. he has a background in the business so he gets things like the alcohol industry really well. he said that the tobacco industry is his favorite because they sell people something that kills you. and they sell a lot of it! it’s crazy to think about it that way, especially because we know that it is true. the alcohol industry really functions in the same way. they know that they need to get college students to buy alcohol because that’s when habits and such form. it’s also when we are at the state, developmentally, that goes hand in hand with drinking. so they do everything they can to market alcohol to people under 21. and it works! they make it seem normal. i have nothing to do, what should i do? drink! it’s the weekend, what should i do? drink! i just worked really hard, what should i do? drink! it’s time to celebrate, how should we celebrate? drink! there is not reason why to any of these things, it all just boils right down to the fact that alcohol industries make us think that drinking is the only think to do when we’re bored, on the weekend, after we’ve worked hard or to celebrate. that’s it.

so get this, you know TGIF (Thank God/Goodness Its Friday)? it turns out that the alcohol industry started it! it was all this big marketing campaign that they did! they had people believing that drinking on the weekends is something normal that every does (or should do). but here’s the catch, the weekend was just saturday and sunday… that leaves one afternoon or night of drinking and that’s it. if the weekend starts right away on friday when everyone gets off of work, that’s another night of drinking! which means that’s a whole heck of a lot more of their product being purchased aka MORE MONEY! it was so successful that today all we know is that the weekend starts whenever your work or school or training ends on friday. in fact, there even used to be a series of tv shows strung together as a part of TGIF- the tv industry wanted in too! (that and Boy Meets Girl was a totally awesome tv show!). but where did all of that leave us?

does anyone out there think we shouldn’t have classes on fridays? (i’m assuming many will say yes) okay, why not? so that we can drink thursday nights! it is thirsty thursdays, after all! and now we have wasted wednesdays and tosted tuesdays…sober sunday….where does it end? oh wait…it never did. every day of the week is taken now. holy crap, alcohol industry, you have done one heck of a good job manipulating us!

900 Medical Marijuana Stores Shut Down

Coming in to work today, it was a regular old Friday morning. Tired, ready for the weekend, and only a few sips into my coffee, I found myself suddenly very awake when I noticed this article in one of my usual listserv emails with alcohol & other drugs materials. With a tag line like 900 Medical Marijuana in Los Angeles were shut down this week, I have to say, they had my attention immediately.

Marijuana has been a tough issue to educate on because research is still highlighting what exactly pot does to the body and what affects this has long term. While research has been trying to catch up, there has been a huge national trend of more and more people using marijuana and more believing that there are no or very limited adverse side effects.

I hear students compare the drug to alcohol- you can’t overdose on pot like you can alcohol! I suppose you’re right, but when you consume marijuana in high doses, it can cause psychosis. Did you hear about the guy who ate another guys face? The only drug he was on was marijuana. So, yeah, you might not be able to overdose on it, but I wouldn’t want to eat someone’s face. Just sayin’.

When you compare marijuana to cigarettes, marijuana leaves five times more tar in the lungs… it also has the same chemicals that cigarettes do with many more… not everyone likes to think about it that way, though, because then the truth comes out. If cigarettes do as much harm as they do, and marijuana is worse….then I guess it isn’t a drug without any “problems” anymore.

There is value in aiding someone who is truly in deep pain and suffering from horrible disease. This is why medical marijuana use was originally supported 16 years ago when Los Angeles passed their bill. If someone has Cancer or AIDS they should have relief from their symptoms, and this should be something they work through with their doctors. Selling marijuana to anyone who has a “medical issue” is not something that I can support. Here’s why:

Marijuana is proven to cause the following:
Reduction in the ability to learn
Damage to short term memory
Trouble thinking and problem solving
Inability to concentrate
Alerted perception of time, distance, space, sight, sounds, and touch
Impaired judgment and decision making
Loss of coordination and reaction time

And that is just in someone who smokes every once in a while. Here are the long term effects:
Increased risk of cancer
Damage to the lungs and airway
Difficulty remembering things and concentrating
Lack of motivation
Risk of mental health problems (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia)
And the list goes on…

Let’s put it this way: “Smoking marijuana causes some changes in the brain that are like those caused by cocaine, heroin…” ( If you wouldn’t do cocaine or heroin, why marijuana?

I also hear people say that they know people who smoked it back in the 70s and they’re fine today. They may seem fine, but what all has changed between now and then (it is 40 years we’re talking about after all)?

I’ll tell you one thing that’s changed: THC is the stuff in marijuana that has the strongest effect on the body. In 1974, marijuana had about 1% THC in it. By 1994 there was 400 times more THC than in 1974. It has been 10 years since then, how much more has it risen? Here’s the other catcher, let’s say you’ve got some of the popular stuff, “Sinsemilla” (from the Spanish word “without seeds”). The levels of THC in that are 7.5-24%!! That’s 750 to 2400 times more than in the 70s. Of course how it reacted in peoples’ bodies back then was different than now. All I have to do is remember that the stronger levels are known to cause psychosis…I can’t believe that that guy ate someone else’s face…NO THANKS!

This Summer Has Been a Test of Character

I have always been wishy washy about the idea that God tests us. I don’t believe that we have a God who desires for us to go through trial, to lose loved ones, to suffer or anything else along those lines. I believe that God experiences what we too experience. When we struggle, He is there watching every painstaking moment of it, like a parent watches over their child. I believe that there are times when He wants to intervene but He chooses, like a parent, to allow us to do for ourselves so that we can learn and grow. If He didn’t, what kind of a world would we live in? That is one of the most amazing aspects of the faith I believe in- it is 100%, purely, and truly MY choice.

What God does desire for us is to respond to all situations, be it trial, stress, anger, you name it, in a way that is pleasing to Him. He wants us to reflect on how Jesus lived His life while He was physically here on earth and respond in a similar way to the situations that we face. Sounds simple, right? Ha.

I’ve had string after string after string of days where I just don’t know what to do next. I want to cry. I want to pull on my worn sparring gloves and have another go around with the punching bag, I want to run, hardlongandfast. I want to pull up my book and get lost in someone else’s world so that the stress of my own can melt away for a while. But this isn’t always what God wants me to do. He wants me to hold my head high. Allow myself to cry when the situation warrants it, because with deep passion comes deep emotion. But He wants me to quiet the defensiveness that rises up inside of me and thank the person instead, because regardless of how very hard the situation is, I still have a choice in how I react.

How do you react when you feel completely disrespected, devalued, and well smushed like a bug you can tell the other person just couldn’t stand?

My family would yell, scream, take it out on someone else. But I refuse. People ask me, those who know my whole story, and there are only a rare few, how I made it through that hell. I say it’s because I could see what was going on, but what isn’t always clear in my response is that what was really going on was God working within me. I’m not always sure I would live it all again, but its summers like this that I am thankful for the acquired ability to set myself aside and let God act instead.

I’ll say I’m sorry, even though I am deeply hurt. I will ignore the voice in my head that says all the words of what I think is going on, and instead look for what you need from me. I can’t remember Jesus asking for what He needed…but I remember Him selflessly giving to others over and over again. He gave to them even when they struck Him, dishonored Him, turned against Him, or didn’t even believe in Him. Who am I to say that I cannot do the same?

I heard a line on the radio the other day that has stuck with me. A woman was telling a story about her child and how she was hoping that she would come to be a Christian, but she was old enough now that the mom couldn’t do much more than be a role model anymore. Introducing God into the girl’s life and sharing her beliefs was done. It was time for the girl to work through the thick of it to figure what she believed and how to get through life when you readily fall into the “band nerd” (or insert any other like term here) category. And the mom said that one day her daughter just looked her dead in the eye and said, “Jesus has a thing for dorks, doesn’t He?” I couldn’t help but laugh.

Whether we’re dorks or we’ve been on the wrong path and done things that lead us to wonder why we have all that we have now, Jesus still chose us. He picked out the prostitute, the begger, the sick, you name it. I’m supposed to live my life like that.

This is a concept that I knew long before I knew I had a life for God. But I knew it in a different way. I thought the only way I could walk a life like Jesus did is for me to go out and find a homeless person and help them get work, a home, food, clothing, etc. I thought I had to travel the world to places where others have nothing in comparison to the riches we have here. But this isn’t the plan that God had for me, and it’s not the plan that He has for many others also. He does have this plan for some, and I am thankful that He does, but you see, God will work through us in HIS own way. Not mine. But I have to be willing to let Him. And sometimes the most difficult time to let Him to work through me in HIS own way is when we feel like we just can’t catch a break.

When I look at my summer and I look at the things that have been happening and the amount of stress I have felt…ug, I wanna stop typing right there. But if I dig deeper, if I put myself aside, take myself out of it completely, I see something different entirely. I have been given the chance to show the love of God. When I was in that meeting, what He wanted me to show was the passion I had, the passion that came from Him, and my willingness to push past myself into something else. He wanted me to allow His presence to be known. But it was up to me to allow it to happen. All it would have taken was one move for it all to be washed away, but I chose Him. “You handled that with such GRACE”. No I didn’t. God did. That wasn’t me. That was God. It was His grace. I chose to let Him lead the way. I don’t know how I do it, in fact I know that I cannot do it, it’s God that does it through me. But what I know is that if I allow Him to work through me in this way, my life will be changed and so will the life of all of those around me. Why else would I then end up back in PT and the first conversation we have is about God?

It doesn’t matter that more happened before this event and that more keeps on rolling in after. It doesn’t matter that I don’t always know how I can keep my head cool and the list goes on and on. What matters is that I can see that God has something in mind that He would love to accomplish. But He needs me to do it. I can’t believe that someone as big and as grand as He could need or want someone as simple as one person like me to do His will, but that is the beauty of how He works. He wants me to show His presence in this place and He wants me to demonstrate that His love is real, that He is love. He wants to show me that there is another set of life experiences that He will walk me right through- helping me to forget just how difficult they were and remember instead how awesome and all powerful that He is.

He wants to love me. And He wants others to witness it. He doesn’t want me to experience strife. It is a test in character; do I want to allow God to work through me and to blindly trust Him no matter what? Or do I want to be selfish and try to handle it on my own and be left with nothing but stress, fear, and pain? What I know is that I have chosen to let Him lead. And every moment when I make this same choice again, I have peace, love, and wholeness. I’m not sure that I need anything else.

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