Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Heading into the New Year

On this last day of 2014, I have spent most of the morning laying in my bed, underneath my lilac quilt, thinking about the year that is about to end. A whole lot has changed for me in this past year: I lost and gained some special people in my life, I traveled, I struggled and I succeeded. All in all, I think 2014 was a great year for me as an individual, since I was able to grow in independence and confidence, but there is always room for improvement. 

I am usually not one for making formal New Year's Resolutions, but here are just a few things that I want to focus on for 2015:
  • Get in shape- I only have one more semester to take advantage of the great gym that my university provides... and I really do miss running 5Ks on the regular. 
  • Make some great connections- Although I originally thought that I would have all my applications turned in for graduate school by now, it seems as though I will be opting for a break from school. I will be looking for a job in a place where I will be happy, and I have the feeling that I will be able to make some connections and expand my network throughout this year, which can help me in the future. 
  • Write every day- I used to keep a journal for every single day, which became too tedious when I began university. Writing my daily thoughts and reflecting was always a nice way to end the day. I have not been able to write very much at all this past semester, but hopefully I can make the effort to write down something each day- a thought, a pertinent quote, an idea that passed through my mind while I zoned out in class. 
  • Savor every last moment of my undergraduate career- It is so bittersweet to think that in just a few short months, I will be graduated and possibly "in the real world," but before that happens, I must survive my last semester of college. I want to both excel and enjoy every last get-together, because I will never have an experience like this ever again. 
  • Practice Yoga regularly- Although this could be grouped into "getting in shape," I regard it to be a bit different. I enjoy yoga because it calms me down and makes me take a pause in my day. The best way to get better at yoga is to practice, and in time, perhaps I will even be able to do the inversions that I have always wanted to do. 
These were just a few of the plans that I have for this upcoming year. Hopefully, 2015 will be the best year yet! 

Do you have any resolutions? 

Happy Yew Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Farewell to my Final Fall Semester

     Here I am towards the end of my final first semester finals week ever, and things actually seem to be going smoothly, to my surprise. Normally, I would be rushing around like many of my peers, trying to fit in all the final projects that I need to turn in as well as studying for exams. Although I did have had a few exams that I needed to study for, I was not too worried about them, and they were all spaced out enough so that I knew that I would have ample time to focus on each subject (hence, why I have had time to blog).
     This extra time on campus sans class has allowed me to do some of the things I love to do, like work out, sleep in, cook great meals, catch up on some Netflix, as well as spend quality time with friends.
     At the beginning of the week, I used my time to work on my last project for a drawing class that I was taking. The unfinished work is pictured above. We ended our semester with a self portrait project, which gave me even more reason to look in the mirror and think to myself "what the heck am I doing?"
     The start of this semester was particularly trying for me, and it seemed to be the same for most of my peers across the board. As things began to wind down, I had a bit more time for introspection.

     Some life lessons I have learned during this semester:

  1. "When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time" - Creighton Abrams
  2. It is important to take time to de-stress by doing something that you love. If you do not, anxiety may eat you alive. 
  3. Even if you have gone to the same college for all four years, it is worthwhile to explore the area in which you are located because you never know what you'll find. 
  4. Staying in touch with good friends is important, whether they live down the hall, across the country, or abroad. 
  5. Never take your opportunities for granted.
  6. Be open to new experiences. 
  7. Take a chance and sign up for an elective that has absolutely nothing to do with your major. 
  8. Keep up with current events.
  9. Get an adequate amount of sleep. 
  10. Stay curious. 
     As my graduation date comes closer, I am becoming more and more aware of the affect that going to university has had on me and how different things would be had I not chosen this university or made these kinds of friends. I am thankful for the things I have learned and where I am right now. I think I am well prepared to move into my last semester of university and then on to the real world.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Common Market

     My passion for ethical consumerism began at the beginning of this semester, after I re-watched Food, Inc., an important documentary on the way food is produced in the United States. This film is filled with startling visuals and statistics that really make you question the food industry and basically everything that you have ever allowed yourself to eat.
     I wanted to find a way that I, a poor college senior, could do my best to become an ethical consumer. I started off by looking into buying products with less packaging... or at least packaging that could be recycled (I am a HUGE proponent of recycling and I actually worked with my university's Environmental Club to help us get single stream recycling on campus last year). I also tried to watch what I eat, especially in regards to meat. Although I had not become a complete vegetarian, I limited the amount of meat I ate, and I completely cut out red meat, especially seeing as I did not really like to eat it that often in the first place. Now, I stick to a mostly vegetarian diet with chicken and turkey a few times a week.
     Just a few weeks ago, my roommate/ best friend had to watch Food, Inc. for a class she is in and she decided she wanted to become an almost vegetarian. Since both of our families still eat meat, we decided not to cut it out completely; this way, when we go home for breaks, we will not react badly to eating meat and we will not cause too much of an inconvenience to our families during dinnertime.
     In addition to becoming kind-of vegetarians, we decided that we wanted to make a real effort to buy ethical goods as much as we can. We did some research and found that there is a natural market co-op just a few towns over from where we attend university. Most of their products are from local places, which benefits the community. Although it is a bit farther out of the way than our regular supermarket, we decided to give the Common Market, of Frederick, MD a shot.
     After scheduling a few hours to make our first visit, we headed out to do our grocery shopping with reusable grocery bags in hand. It was not difficult to find the Common Market, but it was a lot farther away than we expected, and we decided that we would really need to plan our trips to the grocery store, if we would continue to shop here.
     Our week's grocery list was filled with ingredients for dinners like chili and cornbread muffins, burrito bowls, and salads, and we also needed some fruits and vegetables and other goods.
     We started off in the produce section, which was filled with mostly organic and locally sourced foods. We noticed other shoppers around us who were passing up on the little bags that are usually used for produce. We followed suit and realized just how many plastic baggies we were saving just by refusing to use them.
     After exploring the produce section, we went to the dairy section where I was so happy to find milk in glass containers. Consumers can purchase this brand of milk and return the glass container when they are finished, thus cutting down on waste.
     We wanted to try purchasing some things from the bulk section, so we bought our beans for chili from the dispensers, which worked out well. (My roommate and I had never cooked dried beans before, so making the chili was quite an adventure).
     After we had perused the entire store and looked at the cafe section where customers can buy sandwiches and snacks, we decided to check out. We explained to the cashier that it was our first time there, and at the end of the transaction, he handed us each a round poker chip. Little did we know that our reusable bags earned us each a token to play "plinko" with on the way out. The Common Market would donate 5 cents to whichever basket our tokens landed in, which made us happy.
     Now, about the prices... Although the prices are noticeably higher than at our regular grocery store, we found it to be doable. Lucky for us, we are only buying for two people, rather than an entire family which eats three square meals a day. We are going to continue to see how shopping at the Common Market works for us. We really enjoyed our first time there and hope to continue our ethical shopping movement.
     For more information on the Common Market Natural food store, click here.
Do you know of any other similar markets, or have any tips to buying ethical goods? Feel free to leave a comment; I am always looking for more ways to be an ethical consumer!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On Ambition

     When I was young, it was a common motif of children's shows and books to reach for the stars... and exactly what is stopping me from doing the same thing now? I have lots of aspirations, and none of them seem mediocre to me... I want to go to the greatest grad school to learn all of the necessary skills that I need for my dream job. I want to have my dream job, live comfortably in an apartment in a city that I love, have a family, and still have time to write, cook, and do yoga as hobbies.
     That ideal future is a distant "maybe," but I believe in myself enough that I think I will be able to attain it, or something like it, anyways.
     There are some visible barriers in my way at the moment: stress, money, time, distance and distractions. However, I think that, in time, I will be able to overcome these and at least be happy and comfortable in the life that I lead.
      I want to be extraordinary and unafraid.
     Why not be ambitious? Why not dream big? Why not set our sights on something that seems far away, if we know that we just may have a shot at it if we work hard enough?
     This is how I want to live my life. I have never been much for settling in any aspect of my life. I may not be the best right now, but I am working hard to get there eventually.
     Here is a quote to inspire you:
“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. 'Time' for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.”- Roman Pain