The Other End of the Leash: Life as Griff’s Mom

You know what they say: behind every great live mascot is a great Live Mascot Director.

In the case of Drake’s favorite bulldog, Griff, that’s Erin Bell. Here’s a look into Erin’s life as Griff’s mom:

Balancing Act

Erin is the mother of two kids (almost 3-year-old Carter and 1-year-old Sydney) and two bulldogs (Griff & Magoo) and the wife of Kevin. Along with being responsible for Griff’s social life, Erin works in Polk County as a public health nurse on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. She provides care to underinsured or uninsured adults in their homes.

Erin has officially held the Live Mascot Director position since October 1st, 2015; However, this isn’t Erin’s first rodeo. Her and her husband Kevin were the owners of Porterhouse—Drake’s beloved former live mascot.

Griff’s weekly demand varies throughout the year, but Erin estimates the pair are on campus about 4-5 times per week. “Some weeks are crazy busy and other weeks are not so bad, it kind of evens out,” says Erin, “it’s a balancing act for sure.”

#VoteGriff

Erin is the voice behind Griff’s wildly popular Twitter and Instagram accounts. Her approach to each platform is different. Erin uses Twitter to live tweet from the community events he’s at— “so if he’s got a commitment to be somewhere, that’s where you can see it.”

On Instagram, Erin tries to give the community a behind-the-scenes look at Griff at home (like when he naps on a pile of laundry). For her, creating the voice of Griff comes effortlessly. “These dogs have so much personality… I just tweet or Instagram what I swear he would say.”

One of Erin’s favorite Griff moments came from Drake University hosting the Democratic Debate last November. Griff and his patriotic tie effortlessly grabbed the attention of media covering the event on campus and the hashtag #VoteGriff started trending on Twitter.

How she shares the (Griff) love

Erin loves that Griff has the ability to unify the Drake community and thinks it’s important that everybody who wants to interact with Griff gets that opportunity. She explained, “I try not to say yes or no based on the size of the event.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re the Drake Men’s Basketball Team or a small on campus organization—if you request Griff, he’ll likely show up.

Erin proudly shared that Griff was certified as a therapy dog this past summer. Thanks to the certification, Griff is now able to interact with Special Ed students at Delaware Elementary once or twice a month.

After a long day…

When Griff gets home after a long day of charming those in the Drake/Des Moines community, his first thought is food. “He keeps us on schedule with that, he’ll start jumping around and dancing around the house trying to remind us to get him his food.”

Griff’s favorite food? “Anything and everything,” not excluding pacifiers.

Nap time is priority #2. Endurance isn’t necessarily Griff’s strong suit, so one of the first things he does when he gets home is head to bed for a good long nap.

For Erin? Well, there’s “usually about 100 other things that still need to be done” when she gets home. If only we could all live the dog’s life.

The best part about being Griff’s mom?

Erin loves that Griff has the ability to make people’s days by putting smiles on their faces and relieving stress. Seeing those candid reactions on campus and around the community is why she does it. “I think it’s really cool what a dog can do.”

She claims to be my number 1 fan. I think she just might be!

A photo posted by GRIFF (@drakeugriff) on

Follow Griff on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrakeUGriff

Follow Griff on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drakeugriff/

Follow Erin on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erinebell/

4 Tips to Creating the Perfect Podcast

So you want to start a podcast, but don’t exactly know where to start? I mean you might have a few ideas rolling around. But nothing that quite sticks. I spoke to podcast host and comedian, Marina Franklin about how she went about creating the Friends Like Us podcast.

In 2014, SNL was critized for not have a woman of color on the show in 25 years. Their excuse—they couldn’t find any.

Being well known as a woman of color in comedy and knowing of many more, Marina created Friends Like Us. The focus of Friends was on women of color with very different views. Taking advice from a friend on what to get technically, she had developed a great tag for the show. Here’s how it all came together—

  1. Do Your Research: You want to make sure that the content you provide your listener with is something that they can’t find anywhere else. “I thought about what was needed and not done,” said Marina. You don’t want your brand to be the exact copy of something that is already out there.
  1. Be Specific: If you want to talk about cars, talk about cars. If you want to talk about food, talk about food. Find your niche and run with it.
  1. Create the right Atmosphere: Make sure you create a space that people enjoy coming [to listen] to and always want to come back. It should feel like your grandmas house on a Sunday night, with all the family around. That’s the picture you want to paint. Nothing is worse than being bored. So keep it light. Keep it fun. Keep it entertaining.
  1. Book the right Talent: Invite people you know will offer something more. More being—different view points and experiences. It also aids in growing listeners for the podcast. For example, if a guest has 10,000 followers the podcast will see the return of this. Maybe as new followers on our social media pages. Hopefully as regular listeners.

Podcasts to Explore

  • The Moment
    • Host: Brian Koppelman
    • Topic: Entrepreneurship
  • The Read
    • Host: Kid Fury & Crissle
    • Topic: Pop Culture
  • WTF
    • Host: Marc Maron
    • Topic: Comedy

Comment some of your favorite podcast below and give Friends Like Us a listen every Wednesday on Play.it. Also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Let them know I sent you!

Top 5 bachelorettes according to Couchface

Couchface is a blog website run by three guys who are trying to make it big in this world like the rest of us. They blog and podcast about things such as Kevin Can Wait, Are You the Only One, and The Bachelor.

Like everyone, they have strong opinions on who is worthy of Nick’s Love and who should not receive a rose. Of course, this season is the “most dramatic season ever” according to Chris Harrison. To go along with that title and expectation is drama we have already seen within the first two episodes.

While debating over who the top five hopefuls are for Nick to get a chance at love with and down on one knee for they settled on these five hopeful bachelorettes.

  1. Corrine, 24, business owner, Miami, FL

Corrine has taken the villain for the season. She could be compared to Olivia from Ben’s season or Chad from Jojo’s season. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. Aside from being 24 and having a nanny, she is a business owner, which makes her a legitimate bachelorette for this show. She is clearly not there to make friends, as said in every show but she is part of the reason Chris Harrison said that this was “the most dramatic season ever.” She will not win, but deserves a spot in the top five.

  1. Lacey, 25, digital marketing manager, Manhattan, NY

Lacey made her entrance by riding on a camel and telling a hump joke, which automatically puts her on this list. She is confident that Nick is just the bachelor to get laid, and is obviously super bold. She is probably one whose friends signed her up as a joke, and isn’t taking this too seriously but will in the end have her heart severely broken or end up with a giant rock on her hand.

  1. Rachel, 31, attorney, Dallas, TX

Rachel got the first impression rose. As typically seen in all of the other bachelor seasons, the first impression rose never wins but always makes it far. Rachel is a powerful woman who is an attorney in Dallas, TX. She is not one to be messed with. She comes off as a real human and not your stereotypical bachelor contestant which makes her unique and stand out. Obviously Nick saw something in her or else she would not have received the first impression rose.

  1. Vanessa, 29, special education teacher, Montreal

Vanessa is the girl who knows a bunch of other languages. She has a unique vibe to her which will make her stand out. She seemed like someone who might come out of her shell throughout the show and definitely not a boring person to talk to. Nick called her a keeper, wow!

  1. Sarah, 26, grade school teacher, Newport Beach, CA

Sarah’s entrance to the mansion was a great runner-up joke, while she was running in running shoes. This all-time joke, leads to the inevitable conclusion that she will run away with a ring and Nick’s heart.

Stay tuned to find out who will steal Nick’s heart by watching the Bachelor on ABC Monday nights at 8/7c.

5 reasons why it’s not contradictory to be socially liberal and a Christian

It is easy to see why religions don’t logically make sense until you find one that speaks to you. I am a liberal who was raised Catholic, a religion that never spoke to me as it seemed to oppose everything I supported politically. There was a period of time that I thought I was an atheist, that there was no way anything or anyone could be out there greater than ourselves. Then I attended First Christian Church in Des Moines, IA and found myself enjoying every service, sermon, and person that I have come in contact with. Here’s why.

  1. It’s not about the money.

Never once have I been asked for money within this congregation. While they believe that finances are important, they believe that service towards others for the greater good is far more important than money. They have an offering at every service but the reverend has never once said anything about the financial situation of the church, welcoming those who would be disheartened to not contribute in other congregations.

  1. There is no gender.

I sing in the choir at First Christian Church and I frequently find myself crossing out and replacing lyrics. This is because the church believes that God transcends all gender. Though there are many illusions to God being the ‘Father’ within scripture, we often interchange this word with ‘Creator’ to show God’s gender neutrality. To make readings inclusive of all genders, the phrase ‘all of mankind’ is typically changed to something like ‘all of our kind’.

  1. All other religions are accepted and understood, no exceptions.

I attended Sunday mass the day after the mass shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando. It was possibly the most sorrowful sermon I have ever experienced. I asked the pastor, Reverend Ryan Arnold, for this final quote from his sermon and it was this, “We denounce hate and violence in a thoughtful manner so as to avoid inadvertently veering into another form of hate and violence… Islamophobia.” No one spoke for the remainder of the service in reverence to those that were lost as well as for the fear and hatred that was soon to follow.

  1. White privilege is recognized and discussed.

As a predominately white congregation, they work hard to find solutions to the problems that exist due to the carelessness of those that share their skin color. There have been many sermons regarding the violence used by white people to assert dominance over other races. Though it is acknowledged that it will take unsurmountable time and effort on all fronts, they know that when all people find peace, we will be equal as we were meant to be.

  1. Love always wins.

Have you ever been in a church that supports gay marriage and the LGBTQ community? There’s one right down the street! The reverends and members of the church are very open about their support and there are many members of the congregation who are open about their own sexuality and are fully accepted without judgement or criticism. The church is about building a strong community of faith and joy-filled love with those who wish to be a part of it, not a prestigious and exclusive entity with qualifications.

  1. There is no limit to community

Here are some other reasons why I have come to embrace the community of First Christian Church that are less relevant to social liberalism:

  • They have a Fellowship Hall which is used after Sunday service for members of the church to gather and enjoy a cup of coffee while talking to all of their friends
  • Baptisms aren’t done until the sixth grade so the children have some kind of say as to if they want to be a part of the church or not
  • Music is a large part of the service. Whether it be the band, the choir, the organist, or a dance troupe, music is always celebrated
  • They believe in evolution! Yay science!
  • As someone who isn’t a very social being, everyone wants to be your friend and is genuinely interested in your wellbeing

If you’re at all like I was before I found this community, you would be skeptical of this post. All it takes is one Sunday at 10:30 AM to see if this is where you belong as well. If you’re still hesitant and are looking for more information on the First Christian Church and what they stand for, please follow one of the links below:

https://fccdm.org/category/sermons/

http://www.churchthatcares.com/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=180017310&sec_id=180006651

Top Tips, Tricks, & 5 Best Winter Trails to Run Near Des Moines

New Year’s Resolution

Did you make the Classic New Year’s Resolution to hit the gym every day or lose 15 pounds this year? Are you already bored, overwhelmed, or just sick of being stuck inside at the gym? Get outside, hit the trails, Winter doesn’t have to stop you from making your goals.

Three Christmas’ ago my family got me a little and energetic black lab for Christmas. Like the energizer bunny, she had unlimited energy always begging for a walk or to go play fetch outside. As she learned quickly, I’m a big pushover and became desperate to find a way to tire her out in the frozen tundra that is Minnesota in January. To get back into the warmth ASAP, the walks became runs real quickly. In a strange turn of unpredictable events, running other (warmer) seasons of the year became a lot more enjoyable and quickly became a hobby of mine.

Moving to Des Moines to finish college, the following year has gave me the quest of finding the top tips and tricks for winter running. That starts with finding a place other than the slushy sidewalks of the Drake Neighborhood to pound the pavement. Below are a few of my favorite spots along with tidbits of advice from an interview with the local, Jacob Nelson.

Jacob Nelson– Boston Marathon Qualifier, Sub 3-hour marathoner & college track athlete

  1. Great western trail 16.5 miles of old railroad bed trails. “Nice and long, and you can get out of the city…includes wooded patches that are really beautiful.” Jacob added “Less trafficked than most trails, but well kept and even good enough for consistent bikers.”
  1. Clive-greenbelt 8.5 miles of connections to other trails in the metro area that brings together WIndsor Heights and Clive to Des Moines. This is my personal go-to as I can hop down to Waterworks or run the side trails in clive near some prairie and along creeks. My only complaint is that it is routed across one or two busy intersections that don’t seem necessary, but don’t let that scare you away! I recommend hopping on near the Rose Gardens for parking and a great starting point.
  1. Waterworks Park– Sure bet the that every local keeps stored as a hidden gem!
  1. Gray’s lake-Quick downtown Access, 2 mile loop, 4 parking lots. Lots of fluffy dogs being walked to provide distractions,
  1. Brown’s woods-The reality here is that Polk County has an outstanding Conservation board and park system, any of their parks will have ample paved or groomed trails to have more classic runs. This particular park still has many beautiful old, Iowan Oaks left to fly by in your neon synthetic gear.

Extra: South of Grand Ave. (the whole area) For the hills amongst the neighborhoods. This street actually about marks the line where the last glaciation period stretched South, so there is naturally more topography occuring here to help the diversify the training sessions.

How to stop slipping:

  • Yak traks– Almost like winter cleats that fit over your shoes, without slowing you down.

I personally don’t use them but as Jacob jabbed:

“If you are the other 98% of us that didn’t grow up on pond hockey in MN it’ll save your butt, literally!”

  • Newtons– Jacob’s go to shoe brand for winter terrain.

Conditions to look for:

  • Snow removal
  • Traffic level
  • Distance
  • Many entry points
  • Scenery

5 Final Tips:

  • No such thing as too cold, just not the right apparel check out this local running store
  • Try a running buddy to push each other and stay safe
  • Carry identification, in case you freeze your brain and forget who you are
  • Run aerobically, listen to your body.
  • The rule of thumb is if illness strikes below the neck, in the respiratory system, avoid running and limit outdoor activity

Finally, be sure if any of these tips or tricks run you to your goals, if so give it a share to save a friend from falling out there!