Author: kmhowitt

tree-hugger at the university of mississippi

Sometimes You Have to Put Yourself First

I’ve been fairly inactive lately.  I recently got diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, which is what has caused my mysterious lower abdomen pain that I’ve had since I was as young as 6.

When I got home from the doctor’s office with an answer finally, I realized every single food and drink item in my home was not good for the bladder.  Choosing food with this condition can be extremely difficult.  I had to give away my bananas, vegan Ben & Jerry’s, popcorn, pretzels, soy sauce, tangerines, lemonade, granola bars, green bell peppers, onions, marinara sauce… I could go on and on, but that would just make me sad.

Now I’m practically surviving on unsalted almonds, peanut butter, plain cereal, unsweetened almond milk, and potatoes.  Eventually, I should be able to add some foods back because each bladder is different.

For now, my doctor suggested adding in some dairy products, which I was very resistant to, of course.  Once I had a plain vanilla milkshake, it calmed down the flare up I was having.  Since then, I’ve had one almost every single day.

It has allowed me to eat with slightly more variation, which has made me have more energy than I had before the diagnosis or when eating the same things over and over.  Apparently variety is important when it comes to getting all the nutrients you need to be healthy, who knew.

I’m hoping to return to dairy-free life once I hopefully add more food to my diet.  But for now, I am proud to be a vegetarian who is taking care of herself.  It’s impossible for me to go anywhere and do anything, let alone spread the message of environmentalism when I’m in so much pain.

It reminds me of when the flight attendants always say, “Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”  It’s very impractical, if not impossible to help others when you have not helped yourself first.

It might feel like the weight of saving the world is on your shoulders (or is that just me?), but double check you aren’t risking your physical or mental health in the process!


being upside down is one of my favorite things to do, but I haven’t been able to do it since my diagnosis, but I’m hopeful I’ll return to my natural state soon. 🙂


If y’all have any questions or helpful advice, please comment below!

The Importance of Connecting with Like-Minded Individuals


As y’all know, I was selected as an Eco Rep Leader at my university.  Yesterday was our official training for the year.  We had our training at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center.

I had only been there once and it was for their well-known Hummingbird Festival.

The center is one of Mississippi’s finest yet lesser known treasures.  With a love of nature and hope for the future, two sisters,  entrusted their home and property to The National Audubon Society. Since then, the Audubon Society has worked on restoring and conserving the 3,000 acres of hardwood forests, wetlands and native grasslands managed by Strawberry Plains.

Basically, we were at an excellent location to discuss sustainability and environmentalism!


What is…

Eco-reps-logo-green-largerThe first task we had was ensuring that we have some common ground when it comes to defining the important words.



The Office of Sustainability on campus has their own definition of sustainability.  They define it as

Sustainability is a multi-disciplinary, problem-solving approach to creating a social system that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations or the needs of the ecological systems in which humans exist.

But we all got to pitch in!  We knew we wanted to not waste unnecessarily and do the best we could, but it was difficult to create a concrete definition.

We realized we all had different backgrounds just as the fellow students we will be spreading our ideas to.

Some of us felt we should push renewable energy or recycling or vegetarianism or composting or all of the above!  Everyone was so passionate and it felt so good, but we realized the way to reach people is to find which way of moving towards sustainability is the most attainable for them.

a Change Agent?

I still have not mastered a good definition of this term, but I did learn some attributes and skills required for one to be a change agent.

What popped out to me during this portion of the discussion, was the stark difference between introverts and extroverts.  Some people wanted us to all be loud and proud, whereas some believed we should be calm and collected instead of overwhelming.  Of course, both have their place.

Experienced Change Agents know when to speak up and when to listen up.  They also can stay motivated even if a task feels impossible.

Change Agents must be understanding; not everyone can (or should) change their lives over night.  We need to be able to meet people where they are and not make them feel better for the speed of their change.  Small positive actions are not negative; they are still positive!

the Big Deal?

The experience of meeting with my fellow Eco Rep Leaders for this school year, was eye opening.  A lot of people have tried to silence me when it comes to standing up for environmentalism.  I understand now more than ever that allies are a blessing and you don’t have to fight alone.

How do you plan on connecting with like-minded people either in your area or online?  If you don’t know where to start, I can be your first ally in your environmentalism journey!