HealthSkills

The transition from summer to fall can be a little sluggish, especially when many of us are in denial that summer is coming to an end. It’s when the leaves start turning orange and the air becomes crisper that it really starts to feel like autumn. And what better time to reset than at the beginning of a new season? With fall comes a vibrant energy that was lacking in the warmer summer months. People are buzzing around getting ready to head back to school, start new jobs, and plan out the year ahead. Before the official first day of autumn on September 23rd, get a head start on thinking about how you want to spend the next few fall months.

  1. Set goals for fall. Look at your personal life and professional life with a critical eye. What do you want to learn this season? How do you hope to improve? Look forward to what’s coming up and figure out how you can set yourself up for success. Another helpful way to look at the big picture? Create a timeline of the past three to six months and fill in highlights from each month. Compare what you’ve done to what you still want to do, and then add those items to your Autumn To-Do List.
  2. Constantly edit your life. What’s working? What’s not working? Eliminate the negative from your life, whether it’s a bad habit or a toxic person. Add positivity into your life, should that be more vegetables, laughter, or new experiences and travels. Don’t settle for what your life currently is – make it the best it can be.
  3. Clean your space and wardrobe. Now that it’s time to break out the sweaters, scarves, and boots, you might as well go through and de-clutter your space and wardrobe. Clear your desk, donate items you no longer need, go through your kitchen cupboards and toss expired foods – these are all actions that will help clear your mind and allow you to begin the season in a fresh environment.
  4. Get serious about being healthy. As the temperature drops, the drier your skin will get. Hydrate more than you think you need to and take advantage of the vegetables that are in-season. Move your body more, take the stairs, and be more mindful of how you’re treating your body and mind.
  5. Reconnect with friends and family. It’s too easy to check out during the summer and retreat into your own world. If you haven’t been a social butterfly the past few months, strike up conversations with friends you haven’t talked to in months. Right now is the best time to reconnect. Don’t wait for another season to pass you by. Better yet? Make new friends. Join a book club, talk to the person next to you in class, join a sports team – you’re never too old to add new people into your inner circle.
  6. Adopt a positive mindset. It may be easier to have a positive attitude when the sun is shining and the summer days are brighter and longer. But when it starts getting darker earlier and the skies turn gray, maintain a positive state of mind. Surround yourself with positive influences, smile, compliment a stranger or friend, compliment yourself, challenge any negative thoughts that enter your mind, and start saying “I can” instead of “I can’t.” The little changes make a big difference.

How are you resetting for autumn?

Image: Autumn Mott

CollegeEducation

Okay, that’s only sort of true. Obviously it matters. Apart from your graduate school applications, some say a GPA’s significance is limited to the three years following graduation, and others argue that it has no fundamental value post-education at all. But before taking sides, I have a slightly different perspective.

While currently working in HR for a global cable & wiring manufacturing company, I find myself on the other end of the scavenger job hunt – I’m now the interviewer. I sift through résumés, interview and screen candidates, and aim to ultimately select the best person with the most appropriate set of skills. During my interviews, I take notes on KSAO’s: knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that were reflected on their resume. Those “other characteristics” are the real kicker. They can be a variety of details, such as their potential fit to our company culture, for example.

The truth is, whenever I review someone’s résumé, the last thing I look at is their GPA.

I ask myself questions like, “Does this résumé look like they just threw words together and sent them with 50 other applications?,” “Did they make any stupid grammar/spelling mistakes?,” and “What did they do that makes them more valuable than someone else?” It’s never about the number next to their college degree. Sure, putting your 3.0+ is helpful, but quite frankly, unless you can show evidence that you’re capable of getting the job done, it’s only a fun fact. It’s everything else about that application that either gives them the boot or scores an interview.

Granted, your GPA clearly matters when applying to graduate school – but even then, once you’re in, your grade is not nearly as important as the content you truly learn. The phrase “easy A” exists for a reason, and that is exactly what I encourage students to beware of. It looks great on paper, but means nothing. Ultimately, you’ve lost the battle. It sounds like common sense, yet people don’t invest time in their skills that make them employable: critically analyzing situations, strategizing, networking, and communicating, to name a few.

“But I’m still in school and not working! How am I supposed to make myself employable?!” Good question! There’s a plethora of opportunities around you to help build your skills without having to register for a class. The best way? Figure out what you like doing – something that won’t burn you out because it’s a source of joy – and go for it. If you’re a social person, make friends with as many people as you can! Network like crazy. You never know who you’ll meet, who they’ll know, or how and when they may be helpful.

Yes – I’m literally telling you it’s a skill to make a bunch of friends. And if you’re feeling super ballsy, take that class with that professor that everyone avoids because they’re rumored to grade “unfairly.” Challenge yourself to make them like you and help you – prove to him or her that you’re different from everyone else. The ability to understand a really difficult person is much more useful in life than memorizing that one formula that one time in that class a semester ago. You’ll build the confidence to influence people, and the capability to change a person’s mind, attitude, and behavior is priceless.

Needless to say, going out of your comfort zone is uncomfortable and awkward, but I promise you’ll thank me for it!

Don’t stress yourself out over your grades – go do amazing things in real life and have fun doing them!

Image: Flickr

HealthSpotlightYouth Spotlight

We’ll admit that like almost everyone else with a smart phone, we are completely dependent on and obsessed with Instagram. That includes scrolling through the ‘Explore’ option for endless inspiration. One Instagrammer we always find ourselves gravitating toward is Steph Yu of @happyandhealthy96. Not only does Steph share gorgeous photos of the yummy meals she creates, but she encourages all people to find their own happiness and health in their own way.

On top of that, Steph has written an e-book and runs the website A Happy and Healthy Life where she shares recipes, thoughts, health tips, and even more stunning photographs. Oh, and did we mention that she’s only 19?

If you find yourself scrolling rapidly through this week’s Youth Spotlight to see all the beautiful images, don’t forget that there are words of wisdom snuck in between! But if you look first and read after, we won’t hold it against you.

Name: Stephanie Yu
Education: Studying business at the University of British Columbia
Follow: @happyandhealthy96 | A Happy and Healthy Life

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Steph Yu: To me, seizing my youth is defined by not waiting to live my life, but rather living for the now and not for my future. So often you hear “Oh I’ll do that one day, when I’m older.” But I believe that age isn’t a limitation but rather an opportunity. It’s an arbitrary definition that society tends to use as a barometer for maturity, success, and expectations, but I just like to do my own thing, and live according to my rules and my authentic passions.

steph9
CJ: What school do you attend and what did you decide to study?

SY: I go to University of British Columbia, and I’m studying business at the Sauder School of Business.

CJ: What sort of living space do you live in and how do you maintain a vegan lifestyle there?

SY: I live in a single dorm room on campus. It’s actually extremely simple staying vegan and healthy. I have a minifridge and blender in my room that I use daily! I make smoothies, banana ice cream, bring fruit monomeals for lunch, etc. And for dinner I always go to the cafeteria and get a LARGE salad, with rice, or some more fruit!

steph5

CJ: You’ve written an e-book called “Living A Healthy and Happy Life.” What was the process of writing that book like for you?

SY: The process of writing my e-book was both inspiring and difficult. I had to face all my fears, vulnerabilities, and mistakes, and open myself up to possible criticism. But when I started writing it, I promised that I would be genuine and authentically tell my story. I share a lot more than I expected I would, but I’m glad I did, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people who can relate and that makes everything worthwhile!

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

SY: Follow your bliss.

CJ: To our readers out there wondering how they can take one tiny step towards becoming happier and healthier right now, what one piece of advice would you offer to them?

SY: I would say start with breakfast! That’s really the easiest meal to eat healthy. Have a large fruit smoothie or a fruit meal! Also WATER: drink enough water so that you’re peeing clear. And SLEEP! It’s so important to get enough sleep!

steph7

CJ: You’ve experienced your own incredible health transformation. What were some of the difficulties you faced while beginning that process and how did you keep yourself motivated?

SY: It was really difficult for me to deal with social situations when I fist started. I would get a lot of questions that I wasn’t able to answer, and I really felt attacked. I realize now that most people were just curious, so I’d say don’t take things personally and do your research! Become informed about plant-based nutrition, and cover all the basic questions (where do you get your protein, calcium, iron etc).

CJ: As a self-starter you have to keep yourself on track with goals and deadlines. What tools and organizing methods do you use to keep everything running smoothly?

SY: I have a mac, and I use “Stickies” obsessively! I have daily to-do lists, and weekly agendas.

CJ: You have a huge Instagram following! What kinds of things do you do to engage with your community and how has that virtual growth impacted your real life?

SY: I love reaching out to local companies that support the message I do, and introducing them to my followers. I’ve also hosted fruit lucks, and gone to some vegan potlucks! It’s been incredible to find a community here in Vancouver of plant munching people! As for online, I love following and supporting other health foodies, and I’m constantly inspired by others on Instagram!

steph8

CJ: What has been the most unexpected part of college so far?

SY: University has been just incredible. The inspiring atmosphere, incredible friends, and total freedom has made this year my favorite year yet.

CJ: You’re also great about making fitness a priority. How do you keep yourself energized throughout the day and especially throughout a workout?

SY: I workout in the mornings before breakfast. I love waking up, drinking a liter of water, and then getting my sweat sesh on! One of my favorite things to listen to during a workout is the Rich Roll podcast.

CJ: What is your go-to recipe for when you just don’t know what you feel like eating?

SY: DATE COCONUT ROLLS!

CJ: What advice would you give to your 14-year-old self?

SY: Your imperfections guide and shape your narrative, love them, embrace them, and accept them.

Steph Yu Qs

Images Courtesy of: Steph Yu

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Saying that we are fans of Darling Magazine would be a major understatement. We are huge fans – we love how real it is, the topics covered, and the positivity expressed on each and every page. Did you know that Darling Magazine never uses Photoshop to alter women’s faces or bodies. Pretty cool. Not only is the magazine a joy to read, but the Darling website provides a dose of daily happiness and articles that are deeply relatable.

When you’re on the Darling website, Nicole Ziza Bauer is the one curating everything you see, such as writers, articles, ads, and collaborations. So you can thank her when you read an article that makes you reflect on what’s important in everyday life. Though Nicole now spends her time storytelling, her time used to be spent in labs and conducting medical research. Nicole originally pursued a career in the medical field, she stepped back and thought hard about what she wanted to do, not what she should do. This reflection brought her to a new, more creative path.

Nicole is a world traveler, an avid list-maker, and someone who is true to herself, and her journey will inspire you to follow your heart and to not worry if you don’t have everything already figured out (who really does anyway?).

Name: Nicole Ziza Bauer
Education: B.A. in Zoology and Molecular Biology from Miami University
Follow: NicoleZizaBauer.com / Darling Magazine

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Nicole Ziza Bauer: Enjoying it, savoring it, not being in a rush to grow out of it.

CJ: You majored in Zoology and Molecular Biology at Miami University. How did you decide what to study?

NZB: I planned on going to medical school after graduation, so I wanted to major in something that would best prepare me for what lay ahead.

CJ: After college you were a Staff Research Associate at UCLA Medical Center researching how the heart works. What was this experience like working in a lab and conducting research?

NZB: Working in the lab was a great transition from college life to the “real” world, since I was still in an academic environment very similar to where I had spent the last four years. It was challenging but also inspiring; I got to be on the very edge of research that could potentially save lives. Though there was a lot of monotony and repetition in the lab, each day also held the potential of unlocking something that nobody had ever seen or understood before. That was really motivating.

CJ: After preparing for medical school and doing post-grad research, you switched career paths and went into a career of storytelling, writing, and creating. Before Darling Magazine, you were a Purchasing Agent and Event Coordinator. What inspired this change of heart and how did you deal with the stress of making this transition?

NZB: I wish I could say it was one simple thing that sparked the change, but nothing in life is ever that black or white. While I was excited about medical school and worked really hard to get accepted into one, I also kept a strong inner dialogue after college and that prompted me to truly evaluate where I saw my life headed and if there were other things I might want to do instead of becoming a physician.

I had always been a creative child and writing and art brought me a lot of joy. When I stepped back from what I thought I “should” do in order to appear successful in the eyes of others and slowly started asking myself what I wanted to do, the answer came into focus. From there I started looking for opportunities that would better enable me to learn and grow creatively.

Nicole and Horse

CJ: How were you able to block out the external voices and follow your internal compass?

NZB: Trusting that I didn’t have to have it all figured out, or have a clear idea of my career path once I graduated helped to free me from the stress surrounding the decision. I had to (and still do) remind myself that taking things one step at a time is OK. Our character and appreciation of life is built in those tiny steps. Thankfully, I had a few close friends that I could lean on when I was deciding whether or not to go medical school who guided me out of the fog a bit. Having those trusted sources to remind you of your worth, your convictions and your big dreams is so, so important.

CJ: What advice would you give a young adult who might be at a “passion crossroads” in his or her life? 

NZB: I would say: Hi, can I give you a hug? Because you are completely normal!

College is great for so many things, but a lot of times it can also lead us into a false belief that it’s the only time in life to figure things out or decide our future. That’s simply not true. If you are conflicted over what you’re pursuing right now, ask yourself some tough questions: Why did you choose the road you’re on in the first place? Whose applause are you seeking? Do you want out because you’re afraid of hard (sometimes tedious) work? Or are you simply realizing that there might be other avenues out there that you’d enjoy and want to explore?

Our early to mid-20s grant us many opportunities for making decisions and learning how to make independent choices. It’s really important that we look at crossroads or changes of heart not as failures, but as chances to better understand how we’ve been made, who we are, and what our unique role in the world should be.

CJ: You are now the Online Managing Editor at Darling Magazine, a guide to “the art of being a woman.” What does your role as Online Managing Editor entail? What do your daily tasks look like?

NZB: As online editor I’m responsible for all the website, blog, and advertising content that Darling develops. This involves creating and maintaining an editorial calendar (so that our site always has new material), finding and communicating with writers, and generating article ideas, and sometimes even writing myself. My daily tasks include lots of emails, reading and editing articles, chatting with different Darling staffers, and maybe a meeting or a phone call with a brand about potential collaborations.

Nicole ZB

CJ: You curate content, writers, ads, and collaborations on the Darling website. How do you go about narrowing down content so it fits the Darling mission, and how do you establish collaborations?

NZB: Great question! Knowing what you stand for is key to developing a powerful brand. Therefore, with Darling I’m constantly evaluating if something will serve to reinforce our mission statement or if it’ll conflict with it. I try to put myself in the position of a reader and ask: What would they take away from this article? Would they be more inspired to own the things our mission statement says about them, or less? The same goes for working with other writers and brands. We have to be on the same page, working together for that same common goal, rather than just using one another for increased status or popularity.

CJ: We loved your inspiring article ‘The Myths of Wanderlust’ – how has traveling influenced you, and is there a particular trip you have taken that stands out in your mind?

NZB: Thank you! Traveling is definitely something that I choose to prioritize, as it helps to keep my problems small and sense of wonder and world awareness large.

Probably my favorite adventure to date was the month I spent backpacking around Italy with my husband. My grandmother was Sicilian, so I’ve loved everything Italy since childhood. I studied the language a bit in college and then spent a few weeks in Rome after graduating, but getting to go off the grid around the entire country (for a whole month) felt like a dream. It was like coming home.

Darling Mag

CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

NZB: I am an avid list-maker. Every thought, idea, or task that I need to accomplish gets written down, that way I immediately get it out of my head and onto a tangible piece of paper. From there, I look at my week’s agenda and decide when I can schedule time to complete the most pressing tasks. I never go anywhere without my giant, spiral-bound notebook calendar.

CJ: When you are feeling overwhelmed or having a bad day, how do you like to unwind or reset?

NZB: It depends. Sometimes I just need to say a quick prayer, vent to my husband or call my best friend. Other times getting outside and taking my dogs on a walk or going for a hike will help. And when all else fails … I’ll watch old Netflix episodes of Murder, She Wrote. JB Fletcher can solve anything.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?

NZB: I love animals, so I’m a huge advocate of pet adoption. Not only can we provide an animal with a safe and loving home, but we in turn learn compassion when we care for things smaller and less consequential than us. Darling also has a partnership with IJM, of which I am a huge fan. They have such a comprehensive model for bringing justice and eradicating sex trafficking across the globe. It’s very impressive and inspiring.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

NZB: Lately I’ve been trying to get by with less, get rid of more, and curb the mindless spending that’s all too easy to fall into, especially after trolling blogs or social media. In the last few months I’ve donated about five bags of clothing, which has been really eye-opening to consider, especially when I find myself “needing” something new. Most likely, I don’t.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

NZB: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

NZB: Study abroad. Also, take a deep breath; this is just the beginning.

Nicole ZB Qs

 

Images by Emily Blake and Nicole Ziza Bauer

CultureHealth

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been extremely fast-paced. I always expect everything in my life to happen instantly, and my strong desire for instant results often leaves me overwhelmed and exhausted.

I’m a highly competitive individual; I always mange to turn everything I do into some sort of competition by setting sharp deadlines to achieve my goals.

Recently, however, I’ve been self-assessing where I am in my life and where it is I am trying to go.

My answers came from a magazine advertisement I was reading one morning on my commute on the London tube.

It read, “Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day, and Neither Were You.” Inspired by the choice of words, I wrote it down in my notes section of my iPhone of things to look into later that week. Having heard the expression in literature and other numerous places before, I decided to research its origins. I learned it was a French proverb from the late 1100s, and it wasn’t translated into English until 1545.

By relating that phrase to my current life ambitions, I was able to further understand my journey of self-development. My interpretation of the phrase was that all things in life take time to create, and substantial things, such as the great city of Rome, take years to complete.

As humans, we should not set expectations to achieve great successes. We need to rewire how we think about our accomplishments. Ancients Rome’s vast network of developed roads, buildings, and modern advancements were not simply erected overnight. The empire recruited people from afar, and spent years developing into the great power it was known to be. Personal growth is essentially the same way. It takes time and lots of strategic planning, but the time logged pays off dramatically.

The constant search for instant gratification is something that, now being 25, I am getting better at channeling and understanding. Nothing in life comes easily, and the most rewarding things in life require work and perseverance. There are three avenues Generation-Y can relate to directly that include our strong desires for self-development and fulfillment:

  1. Professionally

I often feel the past eight years of my life have been extremely rushed, often making me feel unclear of my life plans. After high school, much like my counterparts, I went straight into university. Not knowing what to do after, I enrolled in a master’s program and soon after found myself working a 9-5 job from Monday to Friday in London. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with my choices, but I often wish that I had taken some time to fully explore my life options and develop my soul and inner character.

At the time, I was in a rush to finish my education and immediately start working. I realize I could have taken more time exploring all my options and really focusing on developing and fine tuning my interests while still in school. I was in such a rush to start making money and live a professional independent life that I sometimes fail to enjoy moments and absorb what I was working towards. Take time to fully develop your interests and life goals early on. There is no rush to finish university and immediately have a job lined up post graduation. This time aids in building character and self-awareness, which is essential in life.

  1. Personally

As any young professional living in a large scale global city has probably experienced before, personal development is an ongoing process in life. We are always changing mentally and emotionally, which directly affects how we feel and how we interact. Our social circles can be vastly divergent from spending time with a significant other, work colleagues, or friends.

Working and living in a new city takes time to adapt to. You need to give yourself ample time to set your foundations to achieve new and great heights. Big cities can often become overwhelming, and often you may feel as if you don’t know how you fit in, but self-development is a cycle of figuring out how your personal growth will continue to morph your life ethos.

Don’t rush getting to understand which social scene you think you belong to, or which Tinder match will become your destined life soul-mate. Live life and go with the flow.

  1. Physically

In the last few years, I have become obsessed with staying fit and maintaining my overall health. Though I have yet to adapt a stricter routine, I used to get frustrated seeing guys at the gym lifting three times more then I could.

Since then, however, I have learned to pace myself towards understanding that I will not have a six-pack overnight. Life is a balancing act where you must make continued and conscious health choices towards adapting a plan that is suitable for your busy and changing lifestyles.

If you want to achieve great things in life that garner longevity, much like the city of Rome, then perhaps consider reconditioning the ways you go about your daily life. Better ways of channeling your thoughts and desires are the key factor in establishing and setting yourself up for success. Good things take time, and rushing to reach the end is not the best solution.

Image: Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we think of people who have inspired us, Meagan Morrison comes to mind for several reasons: she created her own dream job, she’s incredibly talented, and she’s contagiously optimistic. You can tell right away from seeing her illustrations how much skill Meagan has, and you immediately get drawn into her colorfully brushstroked world.

Though Meagan studied business in undergrad, it wasn’t until she was 24 that she decided to go back to school for a degree in fashion illustration. After doing internships and asking lots of questions, Meagan realized that she was going to have to create the dream job she ultimately wanted. The awesome and inspiring part? She did just that.

As a Traveling Fashion Illustrator, Meagan works with fashion designers and high profile brands and travels the world illustrating what inspires her. During our conversation, Meagan consistently referenced how much hard work it takes to make your dreams come true and that you have to “rewire your brain to think positively.” Very true words, and it’s encouraging to know that the road to your dreams may not be easy, but it’s definitely worth the challenge.

We’re excited to share with you Meagan’s interview with Carpe Juvenis! Read on to learn about her role as an illustrator, the greatest lessons she’s learned from starting her own company, and of course, how she seizes her youth.

Name: Meagan Morrison
Education: Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University; Fashion Illustration AAS from Fashion Institute of Technology
Follow: MeaganMorrison.com / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Meagan Morrison: Making the most of every opportunity and asking tons of questions. Those who seek will find. Don’t wait for anything to fall into your lap, you have to go after it. Since I was very young I’d always ask a lot of questions to family friends and teachers. I was constantly educating myself and involving myself in things that I found interesting. ‘Seizing Your Youth’ is ultimately defined by each individual and what he or she wants to get out of life.

CJ: You received your Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University. What did you major in and how did you determine what to study?

MM: I went to McGill and studied business. My older sister went to McGill, as well. When I went to visit her, I remember looking at the girls in the commerce program and I loved seeing how they carried themselves. They were well dressed and professional. I really identified with them. They looked confident, empowered, and determined.

At the time I was very much into fine arts, but I wanted to step out of that for a bit to find myself and my purpose. I knew that with a foundation in business I could specialize and go smaller, but it would be harder to go from something narrower to a business degree. It felt like the right building block at the time.

Meagan D

CJ: You also received an Associate’s Degree in Fashion Illustration AAS from the Fashion Institute of Technology. What was that experience like?

MM: By the time I started my AAS in illustration I was 24 and really knew that the program was what I wanted to do. It was a highly specialized degree that offered fashion illustration as a two-year program. I didn’t want to commit to another undergrad degree, but I wanted a foot in the door in New York. I also wanted to be totally immersed in fashion illustration. I read this quote in a book about fashion illustration that advised to launch your career in a city that matters. I figured if I was educated here and given the opportunity to work here, I would be launching myself in the biggest city in the world for my industry. That’s what prompted my decision to go back to school.

Meagan Insta 3

CJ: What sparked your love of illustration and design?

MM: I always loved fashion and art. I didn’t quite know that they could co-exist so intimately until I started working in the fashion industry after McGill. My first internship was at a fashion magazine and I was constantly asking questions between the editorial department and the art department to see how much, if any, traditional art they used. It was predominantly graphic design and photography, so I didn’t see myself in that world. I thought maybe I belonged in the gallery world of fine art. Somewhere between trying out a bunch of different professions in the industry and asking questions, one of my coworkers mentioned the program in fashion illustration at FIT. When I heard the profession and researched it, it felt as though a lightbulb went off. I couldn’t believe that I found something that really combined my true greatest loves: art and fashion. That’s what really sparked the passion for me.

After hearing about the profession and the program at FIT, I went to bookstores and pulled all the sources I could find on fashion illustration. I searched through the glossaries and found names of illustrators, and some were located in Toronto. I reached out to Virginia Johnson, a local Toronto illustrator and textile designer, and brought her my portfolio. I explained to her that I loved illustrating shoes, and she pushed me to follow what I loved and told me that the rest would fall into place. I’ve been obsessed with illustration ever since.

Meagan Insta 2

CJ: You are a traveling fashion illustrator and recently branched out to start your own company. What does it mean to be a traveling fashion illustrator?

MM: It’s about being mobile and not just sitting at my desk pulling images off of the Internet. It’s about experiencing the culture firsthand and having that inspire my work. I have always been so passionate about travel and how that would inform my illustrations, and I wanted to be known as an illustrator at the intersection of both travel and fashion. There’s nothing like discovering a new destination and seeing how people dress in different cities around the world. I want to capture how the environment they’re surrounded by influences their style and my work. It’s the same thing when I’m at a fashion show and later do illustrations. I’ve seen the clothes, felt the texture of the fabric, heard the playlist, and felt the mood of the environment. I see the vision that the designer intends for the line. It helps bring the illustrations to life.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from starting your own company?

MM: That you never stop fighting. Every paycheck is a fight. Every project is a new hurdle. I don’t mean to sound defeated by that, but it is the most obvious and striking contrast between working full-time and working for myself. I knew every two weeks I would get a paycheck at my last job, but now I have to chase and follow-up on everything. All the work of orchestrating that and keeping projects moving can be a challenge.

I’ve also learned that it would be great to have a sounding board. The thing I miss about working with a company is having the team to bounce ideas off of. It’s always a joint decision. I love the fact that I am making choices for myself and I do have the final say, but I think it’s good to discuss the decision with someone first and come to a well-informed decision. It’s a lot of pressure to not make the wrong choice on your own.

You also have to be careful so you don’t get taken advantage of. You’re constantly looking after yourself. The momentum has to keep going and the ball can’t drop. I find that the more I’m working, the more work comes in. It’s the ripple effect. The chain reaction in itself can be exhausting because when can you ever pause and catch up on your sleep?

CJ: You have done illustrations for amazing clients including Lucky Magazine, Rebecca Minkoff, Calvin Klein, and Conde Nast Traveler. When you work with each client, what is your process and your role as an illustrator?

MM: It honestly differs with every client, how big the project is and how much they want to involve the social and illustration aspects of it. When I come into a partnership I always gauge what the client’s expectations are, the breadth of the project, the timeline, their budget, and then we work from there. It’s about finding the middle ground between what you feel comfortable with and what the client feels comfortable with.

I have a clear vision about the brands I want to work with and how they align with the vision I have about being a traveling fashion illustrator. I don’t take on every project. If people want to sponsor things on my Instagram, I don’t take every product. Every partnership is very authentic. I don’t ever take on a job just for the money; I only do it when I believe it’s genuine and it makes sense.

Meagan C

CJ: How long does a piece take to create from start to finish?

MM: It varies per project and per client. For instance, my Calvin Klein job, I was at the show illustrating live. I could feel the fabrics and speak to the creative director, Francisco Costa, about his vision. I had about two days to turn around finals, but it helped to see the actual clothes. The pieces themselves takes me about three to four hours to complete, but that varies depending on how detailed each piece is. Then I scan the paintings, clean them up in Photoshop, and send the JPEGs to the client.

If it’s a customized piece or if I’m designing something from scratch, that requires a lot more preparation. I’ll do pencil sketches and color comps and then take it to the final round. Some are more laborious and expensive and others are just straight to final.

Meagan Insta

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be a fashion illustrator do to set themselves up for success?

MM: Start asking questions and get a portfolio together. Also, don’t lose your voice. When people are younger they start to emulate the top people, but that’s not an advantage. People don’t want to hire a second rate version of someone else, they want to hire the first version of you. I’ve seen it on social media where people’s styles are so different, and that’s what’s standing out. It’s a saturated market. Keep true to you and keep your voice and style genuine. Embrace the quirks about your style.

There are tons of free websites out there as well where you can put your work online. Keep it clean and simple so you can showcase your work. When I was younger I was constantly illustrating to keep perfecting my craft and finding my voice. I wasn’t thinking about gaining clients just yet. Build your social awareness and share your journey. Then, when you are ready to work with clients, people will already know about you.

Meagan Insta 4

CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

MM: I have a massive planner that is 8½ x 11 inches. I write lists every single day, and everything that doesn’t get accomplished the day before gets carried over to the next day. It’s blinding because I highlight everything. I also use whiteout so there’s nothing unnecessary on it. I start and end my day with that book.

From the planner I move to emails. The luxury of working for myself is that I can answer them when I’m in still in my pajamas. I get breakfast and then do errands. I want to get all my errands finished before I start painting, because once I start painting I lose track of time. It’s nice to have everything else taken care of so I feel at ease when painting. I don’t want stress to show through in the work. I often work pretty late into the evenings. It depends on how intense the turnaround time is. I like to end the day seeing a friend or unwinding watching Netflix.

One thing I’d like to do more of is exercise. You have to take care of yourself when running your own business. If you run yourself down there is no business. I don’t have weekends. I haven’t taken a proper vacation when I’m not working. For better or worse, travel has become part of my brand so I feel a sense of responsibility to cover what I’m doing and share it on social media even on my downtime.

Meagan Insta 5

CJ: What spring break experience has been memorable for you?

MM: I remember the spring break in my senior year of high school. I traveled with my class to France and Italy. That trip stands out to me because we had a small group of students in my high school, and we were combined with another high school group from the Ontario area. We got to meet new high school students on the trip and it was a prelude to university and meeting new like-minded people. I love how traveling and meeting new people expands your vision.

We started in Paris and hopped over to Florence and Rome. I had the time of my life. It wasn’t about the accommodations or amenities at all. It was about being with people you cared about, having a blast, and laughing a lot.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about?

MM: Changing the perceptions on mental health, depression, and anxiety is important to me. I don’t think people should be scared to talk about it. Being open and dealing with it as you would your physical health is important. There’s more people suffering from anxiety and depression in the country today than there has ever been. Why is that? It’s a blessing and a curse that we have social media, but it also gives people a sense of inadequacy all the time. You’re constantly faced with what other people are doing and how much more you should be doing.

I’ve had to really practice changing my mindset about that. By nature I’m very anxious and hard on myself. I practice gratitude. My anxiety can be so bad that it could hinder my work flow. When things aren’t totally concrete I’m at my worst. The grey area is the hardest area to live in, but that’s life. Rarely is anything concrete.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

MM: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

MM: I’d say not to worry and that everything is going to work out just fine. I feel more confident now than I ever have. Looking back at all the things I didn’t think I could get through, that I have since surpassed, helps me to remember that everything will always work out. I didn’t know then that I’d be able to build a life that I love so much.

I would advise people in their twenties that nothing is handed to you. You have to practice happiness. It can be tough but you have to practice that in the same way you train for a marathon. Rewire your brain to think positively. Also know that happiness isn’t at the other end of success. You can start with happiness and then everything else doesn’t have so much weight on it. If your happiness is contingent upon getting into a certain college or winning a certain award or landing a client, then you’re never going to get there because the benchmark is always raised.

But if you start with being grateful with what you have in the moment, then you’re already working at an advantage. Be grateful for what you have because it can all be gone tomorrow. I feel infinitely happier now than I did way back then, even though I have tons more responsibilities. It’s been a matter of self-awareness and rewiring the way that my mind works.

Meagan M Qs

Images: Illustration Images by Meagan Morrison; photos of Meagan by Carpe Juvenis

HealthLearnWellness

Nature has an incredible way of creating and rebounding. There are countless lessons we can learn from nature if we just look close enough. At times, it’s hard to accept what happens in our lives. We begin to draw inwards, closing ourselves off from what’s going on. Looking outside, however, could be just the thing we need to help turn things around.

Burying Vs. Planting

When you think about burying versus planting, two very different meanings arise. While the former implies death or stowing away, the latter suggests the opposite with feelings of new birth and growth. Yet they are essentially the same action. The process of digging something up allows for many things to happen. It is preparation for both endings and beginnings, decay and development, vulnerability and hope. We often times bury things in our own lives. Pressing our fears, disappointments, and anger into the backs of our minds or the depths of our hearts in order to hide and forget that they are there. We bury goals when they seem out of reach to save ourselves from being exposed to embarrassment or regret. We cover up as much as we can but by doing so, are mistakenly blinding ourselves from nature’s true process at hand: the growth of perspective.

Sometimes it is necessary for one thing to close for another to open, whether it’s letting go of certain ideas you have grown up with, choosing to say goodbye to negative people, or moving on from an upsetting event. Experiencing any level of loss reminds us of the value of those around us, the time we have, and the opportunity to seize every moment. Burying and planting come hand in hand, and it’s learning the rhythm between them that can help us adjust our thoughts and become hopeful for whatever comes our way.

The Ripple Effect

Like the proverbial pebble dropped into a still pond, the impact of our actions can reverberate outward into reaches far greater than we know. Knowing our capacities to influence the people around us, there should be a conscious and cautious effort towards making that influence a positive one. So much of what we say and do can be channels of inspiration, encouragement, and support for others and even ourselves. Being the first to forgive can help start mending a broken relationship. The mindset you choose to have in the morning can alter your whole day. Journaling can turn into writings for a future novel. Sometimes there are clear intentions with our actions and sometimes there are not. After all, the only thing we have true control over is which pebble we choose to throw. It’s at least understanding the scope of our impact, the fact that our behavior in the present can sway events in both directly and indirectly, that we can begin acting in ways that are most likely to bring positive change.

Timing

Human beings are constantly fighting against the one thing that nature whole-heartedly accepts, understands, and obeys: life’s timing. There are birds that consistently follow migratory patterns throughout the year, flowers that only bloom in favorable seasons, and fish that survive in shallow streams until they’ve grown enough to swim into deeper waters. Nature always follows the progression from waiting to changing. People find it difficult to wait and are uncomfortable with change. It seems unnecessary sometimes to have to postpone plans, or move from one place to the other, or spend time working for others when we could be working for ourselves. All of this, however, is exactly how nature survives and thrives. It’s a lesson we can all learn from. There is a sense of collaboration with time itself when we allow it to just happen, when we accept that certain seasons must precede the others. Just as one chapter in our life can be dedicated to preparation and reflection, the next can be for action and transformation.

Nature is one of life’s most important teachers and its curriculum will always be the same. It’s about embracing the light and the night, knowing how to rest and store our energy, and blooming into our best selves whenever the time is right.

Image: Grzegorz Mleckzek

CultureHealth

“I think we’d like life to be a train… You get on, pick your destination and get off. Every day, you have to see where the wind is and check the currents and see if there’s anybody else on the boat with you who can help out. It’s a sailboat ride — the weather changes and the currents change and the wind changes. It’s not a train ride. That’s the hardest thing I’ve had to accept in my life. I just thought I had to pick the right train — and I worked hard to pick the right train. And darned if I didn’t get off at the end of it and find out that was just a midway station.”

– Barbara Brown Taylor

As so poignantly said by Barbara Brown Taylor, life is not a straight shot path. And that itself is a lesson that so many of us have to unlearn. The timelines, deadlines, and benchmarks of life condition people to think that moving forward means moving in a predetermined, sequential order. Midterms to finals to graduation. High school to college to career. So when an event or decision veers us in another direction, anxiety ensues. Why are things not going as planned? Why isn’t it easy to stay on course? Some people are able to, so why not me?

The problem with these questions is that they are asked on the basis that veering off in life is unfavorable, incorrect, or negative. The funny and elusive fact about life, however, is that deviating from the expected order can be positive and beneficially life-changing.

Ever heard of “Slash Careers”? It’s when an individual with multiple interests pursues multiple careers successfully. Yeah, it’s a thing. There are people out there who start off pursuing a career that they had always planned on but additionally spend time in their already-busy lives to grow an additional vocation. Think a lawyer/filmmaker or therapist/violin maker (that’s real, check out his story and more here!). If you allow yourself to act on your interests, adding a “slash” to your life might be what you need to feel more whole. It’s definitely not something that everyone plans on, but it may just be the adjustment that binds your career(s), passions, and purpose together.

It’s ingrained in all of us to hold on to things. To hold on to plans, people, and expectations. If we always do this, we risk opportunities to create something new and our potential to live freely. Looking for a new job or losing the one you have, changing your college major, taking longer than expected to graduate, backpacking through South America, applying to graduate school or deciding not to, anything and everything that we may not have seen for ourselves, can be a possibility to reroute. We can try to live from point A to point B, but definitely not all the time. There needs to be an awareness and acceptance of life’s true trajectory. It’s not a line, it’s a design that’s yet to be made.

Image: Gratisography

Culture

In life, we end up settling for a lot of things. We settle for the salad instead of the burger we’ve been craving all week, or for the steady job instead of pursuing our dream career in music or art. We settle for the little things, and then the big things, and keep telling ourselves that in the end it will be for the better.

Unfortunately, life is short. The message of Carpe Juvenis is to #SeizeYourYouth and to live your life right now. Don’t wait for later to pursue your passions. And with this comes the idea of never settling.

A lot of the time we coordinate the phrase “never settle” with the concept of relationships. But not settling applies to all aspects of life and is something that you should live your life by. You never know when a chapter in your book is going to be closed or a page might turn, which is why it is important to do what you love and be happy doing it and to never settle. We spend such a huge portion of our lives caring what other people will think of us if we wear our favorite orange sweater out in public or if we decide to go to the gym even though we’re desperately out of shape. Instead of caring about what others think, care about what you think and do whatever brings you joy and the feeling of accomplishment.

At the end of the day, your happiness is most important. And while there’s no time frame on chasing your dreams, you won’t be young forever. Live your life to the fullest, seize your youth, and never, ever settle.

Here are some real life examples for daily ways to keep yourself from having to settle:

  • Work hard in school and complete all assignments on time so you don’t have to settle for a college or job you don’t truly want
  • Stay dedicated to your job so you can afford to purchase that item you’ve been saving up for
  • Hold your friends accountable to being on time and following through on commitments (and do the same!)
  • Plan study dates with friends so you can get the A you need to keep your GPA high
  • Practice for an interview ahead of time so that you don’t bomb it and have to settle for a different job you’re less excited about
  • Eat a healthy homemade meal so you can enjoy an indulgent treat later in the day, guilt-free
  • Go window shopping with your friends instead of going on a shopping spree so that you can continue to pay your bills on time

Image: Gratisopgraphy

Culture

So you’re in NYC for the winter and you’ve already read my last piece about doing some fun stuff in the city. Well, what do you know, there’s more to do! Who wouldn’t like a hot bowl of ramen, a cozy warm setting with some BBQ, or a comforting bowl of soup this winter?

Relatively affordable for a college student and great for winter­ get-togethers, here are some places I’d like to recommend.

Ramen

Yes, ramen! There are plenty of delicious ramen shops around the city; you just have to find them! You probably know about Ippudo, the popular ramen shop in the East Village that has already been noticed by NYT and NY Mag. But there’s also Momofuku and Takumi, which is located near NYU and is where I suspect local students go when they aren’t willing to travel any further than a five block radius. Spend a day exploring the neighborhood and warm up with a good bowl of ramen!

Japanese BBQ

When I first started college a few years ago, I tried to keep in touch with my friends from high school who were also in the city. We ate at a place called Gyu­Kaku. It’s a Japanese BBQ that’s great for chilly or rainy winter days near Cooper Union, but there there’s one up in Midtown. You and your friends order whatever meat or veggies you want, and you cook it on the grill in front of you. The cozy warm atmosphere and the abundance of food is a great way to spend lunch or dinner during the unpredictable but nonetheless chilly season. Split some orders with a friend, or go as a large group and get a party platter. It’s by St. Mark’s so you can explore the neighborhood (and get an ear piercing if you’ve been dying to get one) while you’re here.

Chinese food

I’ve been going to a Chinese place on 102 Mott Street (the name has changed once or twice) ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always gotten hot congee there. In high school, I went with a group of friends and ordered a rice dish with salt and pepper pork. In college, I went back yet again, and this time with different friends (and one who was a vegetarian). Despite its lackluster appearance, this Chinese restaurant has always been my go­-to when I’m in Chinatown because of its reliable food and nostalgic experience (and affordability!). Explore Chinatown and stop by for wonton noodle soup, rice dishes, and congee.

As a jaded New Yorker and poor college student, I can tell you that finding good food in good places can be exhausting both mentally and for the wallet. At the same time, it can be fun when you have friends who are willing to try new things with you. Take some time this winter break to see what new places you can find. Who knows what hidden gems you will discover. Enjoy and happy eating!

Image: Lauren Jessen

Culture

The day you turn 18 is monumental. You become a legal adult. But for most of us that have passed that key birthday, we’ve also discovered several harsh realizations about growing up.

Almost everyone has heard it: “College will be some of the best years of your life.” This may be exciting for incoming freshmen who are about to embark on a life-altering journey, but what about college seniors who are working on job applications? What is there to look forward to if your best years are already behind you?

As a college junior, I have no desire to believe that college will conclude the best years of my life. I believe that your college years aren’t simply defined by your age, but by your experience. For many people, college is their first burst of freedom…their first attempt at learning responsibility. What makes college so exciting is simply the intense opportunity for personal growth.

I felt the weight of this responsibility when I became captain of my tennis team during my sophomore year at the University of Nebraska. After just one summer, I went from being an overwhelmed college freshman to assuming a position teeming with responsibility and prestige.

As a self-professed control freak, being team captain is probably just what I needed. However, Uncle Ben said it best: “With great power comes great responsibility.” People who are seen as people of importance are often put on a pedestal. More is expected of them than others. But what no one tells you about being on a pedestal is that it is an awfully lonely place to be.

If someone asked me if I was prepared to be captain that year, I would’ve answered with a definite “no.” If they had asked me the same question about this year, I would’ve answered “probably not.” Although I’m one step closer to being prepared, I’ll never be completely there. Preparedness isn’t something tangible; it’s a state of mind.

When a person decides they’re ready to get married, are they really ready for that kind of commitment? When a couple decides they’re ready to have a baby, are they really ready to be parents? Can anyone be prepared for such life changes? And what defines being truly prepared?

There came a moment during elementary school when I realized that adults aren’t always right. With that came the realization that parents aren’t always right either. The loss of magic I experienced in that moment was very similar to the emptiness you feel when you discover Santa Claus doesn’t exist. It’s facing another inevitable reality.

But there’s also a kind of relief in realizing adults can be wrong. All of a sudden, they become human. That pedestal that you had them on has diminished. The expectations you had of them, as well as your future self, have vanished. They no longer seem invincible. All at once, they become much easier to forgive.

We’re all waiting for that epiphany. That moment when we suddenly feel more responsible, more worldly, more prepared than we were the day before. It’s both daunting and refreshing to know that day will never likely come. There’s no book to tell you the best way to survive a marriage or the correct way to raise your kids. Just as with anything else, that part of your life will be defined by your choices.

It’s much easier to understand your parents once you’ve walked in their shoes. It’s also much easier to understand your boss once you acknowledge their position. Whether it’s choosing a college, moving to a new state or making a financial investment, any big decision in life is difficult to make. And the more you grow, the more difficult choices you are forced to make.

Our culture has a fascination with age. That’s why the day you turn 16 assigns you a responsibility that you weren’t supposedly mature enough for the day before. It’s the same as the day you turn 21. But how many 20-year-olds do you know that could be drinking? How many 22-year-olds do you know that shouldn’t be?

The day you turn 18, you don’t feel any different. You’re the same person you were the day before, with the same level of experience and intellect. The same holds true between your 20th and 21st birthday, your 34th and 35th, and your 59th and 60th. The truth is, nothing changes. You’re simply one day older.

What makes you an adult isn’t that monumental day that you surpass 17. What makes you an adult is your assumed level of responsibility. All the times you’ve chosen to keep your mouth shut when it wouldn’t have been wise to speak. All the times you’ve made a sacrifice for someone that could do nothing for you. All the times you’ve had the courage to admit that you were wrong.

But just like any other type of growth, it has to start within you. You have to want to grow. The question is: who in their right mind actually wants to grow up? Wouldn’t almost everyone like to remain a carefree kid for the rest of their lives?

The answer lies in just another inevitable truth: one day you will grow up. And one day, the world will ask things of you that they expect of an adult in the same way you’d assume your dentist knows how to fill a cavity. The secret lies in trying.

There’s the common saying: “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.” While some people like to stick to their ways and coin them “successful,” others understand that change is the only way to improve upon something.

Just like you don’t know how fast you are until you run your first marathon, you’ll never know the power of admitting you were wrong until the words actually escape your mouth.

Image: Lee Scott

CultureSkills

As soon as we put down the turkey leg and finished off our apple pie, we blinked and December was here. Even though we’re approaching the 2014 finish line, don’t let that slow you down. The last month of the year can be a new beginning for many different things – goals, activities, habits, skills, and adventures. The holiday season may present a packed calendar with parties, trips, and work to finish up, but don’t wait until 2015 to make resolutions, start something new, or to make self-improvements.

Here are some successful ways to wrap up 2014:

1. Tie up loose ends.

Finish up the remaining items on your to-do list, schedule those doctor appointments, and complete any lingering projects. This way, you can enjoy the holidays and have a fun time ringing in the New Year. Don’t bring unwanted baggage into 2015.

2. Spend quality time with friends and family.

Make time for loved ones. When the New Year begins, everyone will get busy and it’ll be a challenge to find time to spend together.

3. Say thank you.

Write thank you cards, make a phone call to express your gratitude, or mail a small gift to those who were there for you in 2014. If there are people who were influential in your personal or professional life, let them know how appreciative you are.

4. Accomplish resolutions from the beginning of 2014.

What resolutions did you make at the beginning of 2014 that have yet to be accomplished? Do them. We may only have one more month, but there is still plenty of time!

5. Learn a new skill.

You’ve got a month to learn a new skill. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to ski, improve your language skills, or learn how to efficiently use Excel. There’s no better time than now.

6. Take a weekend trip.

You may not have the time or funds to take a big trip this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a quick weekend escape. Sneak in one last adventure before the New Year.

7. Look forward.

Are major changes on the horizon? If not, do you want there to be changes? Think about what you hope to accomplish and start making adjustments in your habits and routine to make those changes a reality. Spend some time thinking about where you’d like to see yourself in 2015 and you’ll be setting yourself up for a great future.

8. Read one more book.

Don’t push off your reading list for 2015. Start now. Tomorrow you’ll be glad you did. In a reading rut? Here are some tips for how to make time to read.

9. Organize your life.

While ‘organizing your life’ is a great resolution for January, why not start getting things in order now? Organizing – whether it’s your physical space, your routine, or your overall organizational ‘system’ – can be a huge undertaking. Start small and pace yourself.

10. Give back to your community.

While it’s important to be involved in your community every month of the year, you may feel more inclined to give back during the holiday season. Don’t wait any longer to help and make a difference.

11. Improve your culinary skills.

There are a lot of delicious holiday-themed recipes and hearty meals that you can make for the cold winter months. Experiment with new ingredients, attempt a challenging recipe, and improve your cooking or baking skills so you can do more cooking at home in 2015.

12. Scrapbook or journal.

Before saying goodbye to 2014, print out photographs from special events that happened throughout the year and create a memory book. Write about how those events shaped you and why they are memorable. This is a great way to remember everything that you have accomplished during the year.

13. Develop good habits.

Trying to wake up earlier, exercise more, or spend less time on social media? Start forming good habits this month, and if any improvements need to be made later, that sounds like a pretty good 2015 resolution.

14. Take time to reflect.

Before the craziness of the holidays and the New Year begin, take some time for yourself. Revisit events that made you laugh and cry, remember the times when you felt hopeful, and meditate on the moments that were more challenging. Contemplate your successes, failures, goals, and accomplishments from 2014. Take pride in what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, and think about what you want to take with you into 2015.

How are you wrapping up 2014?

*This article can be found on The Huffington Post.

Image: mt 23

Skills

Asking for help can be hard when you’re going through a hard time. At times it can be a case of pride. You don’t want to show how much something is bothering you or how much it is hurting. Perhaps you don’t want to burden someone with your problems. Whatever the reason, I can say it is always a good idea to ask for help when you need it.

I have never regretted asking for help. Have you ever not raised your hand in class because you were worried about asking a dumb question? We’ve always been told that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Even if there were, you could either have an answer right away or you could just agonize on your own for however long it takes for you to figure things out. When you speak up, you get answers.

I admit that this is a lesson I have had to learn more than once. I once missed a day of school while sick. I didn’t ask for anyone’s math notes because I was sure I was smart enough to piece together the information on my own. A week later, not only had I not figured out what I missed, but I didn’t understand anything that came after it. Instead of letting my confusion grow, I finally asked my teacher for help. Guess what? Everything began to make sense.

If someone can’t or won’t help you, it’s not the end. It just means you can move on to someone who can help you with your problem. This idea is not limited to class lessons. The holidays in particular can be troubling times for people. Some feel overwhelmed about spending so much money or the need to make a holiday perfect. Some people feel like they have to spend the holiday alone. Like the fear of asking for help, this pressure we put on ourselves tends to all be in our heads. Reach out to friends or family if you want to spend the holiday with someone. If you need space from your loved ones, you can volunteer somewhere. Don’t suffer because you’re afraid to reach out.

If you’re scared or confused in life, it never hurts to ask for help. You may want to prove you can do things on your own, which is valid. However, if you are slowing yourself down because you don’t want to admit that you need help or because you’re scared others will see you differently, don’t worry so much. Everyone has problems. No one was born knowing everything or being able to do everything. We all learn as we grow. Even in adult life we are still learning. The very problem you are struggling with may be just the thing that someone else is struggling with. You just have to be brave enough to talk about it. Not asking for help just wastes time that you could use to move forward. So don’t waste anymore time. Just ask.

Image: CollegeDegrees360

CultureLearn

365 days, 6 hours, 45 minutes, and 48 seconds. That’s how long it takes for our Earth to revolve around the sun. This revolution (and the rotational tilt of the Earth’s axis yada yada…) causes those changes in season. We know the seasons well and we expect certain things to happen in accordance with their personalities. In the colder seasons, we can see our breath hit the cool air and make the necessary changes in wardrobe. We turn our headlights on early on our drives home from work and prepare ourselves for the vigor of the holiday season. Beyond these changes, however, are the subtle lessons we can all learn from the stories that these colder seasons tell.

Autumn to Winter – Accept and embrace change.

The yearly dance through meteorological phases does not stop. Ever. As the earth is always moving, we should too, with the knowledge that the only predictable thing is that things will change. Everyone has to make adjustments in their lives to accommodate other people and rising situations, and becoming aware of the pattern of changes can help people become more resilient to unexpected events. We all get thrown off from time to time when things don’t go according to plan, but accepting and embracing circumstances as they come is the first step in regaining balance and stability. Changes happen, and we reroute. Onward and forward.

Temperature drop – Coldness can be a very good thing.

The power of coldness is twofold: It’s harsh at times but can also bring people together. Whether it is snow, or rain, or gloomy skies, there is something about coldness that exposes a vulnerability within each of us, serving as a reminder that it’s okay to rely on people and things to keep us warm. It is fitting to have that sense of needed camaraderie amidst all the celebrations and traditions happening towards the end of the year. Allow the cold to signal a time for you to put your “relationships on fire.”  Visit relatives, keep in touch with friends, and be the first to call.

Fallen leaves – There is a time for everything.

If only trees could talk. Any deciduous tree out there with barren branches and its leaves sprawled on the ground, would be the first to tell you that losing is a part of life. The trick is learning that loss is necessary. It can be necessary to start anew or to grow in the future. Sometimes we lose jobs, or competitions, or spaces on people’s calendars. We lose hope and we lose energy. These times in which we feel hollowed out should be seen instead, as times of restoring. The effects of losing something lets people reevaluate what matters most to them. Emptiness permits a blank slate to reflect, prioritize, and set new goals. While there may not be an immediate upturn, it will happen. Given the right conditions and mindset, it always does.

Although we may shiver a lot more and have to chase daylight to get things done, treasure these colder months for what they’re worth.

“All seasons have something to offer.” – Jeannette Walls

Image: Samuel Rohl

Skills

During the holiday season, especially right around Thanksgiving, gratitude is everywhere. Starting around kindergarten, we’re taught that this is the time to list out the things we’re grateful for and say our thank you’s. It’s a wonderful thing, and our warm holiday glow often lasts a few weeks past the big day. But, most of us get caught back up in our busy routines and forget to show or regularly acknowledge our gratitude for the miraculous gifts life has given us: friends, family, love, education, health, pets… and the more simple ones (which may not be so simple to many people in the world): a sip of water, a bite of food, or a breath of fresh air.

Forgetting to show gratitude doesn’t make us bad people, but it actually would serve us and our happiness if we could remember to thank our lucky stars each day. Giving thanks daily can be so quick, but can truly impact the way we see our days.

Here are a few ways to remember our gratitude and give thanks to those who mean so much to us:

  1. Gratitude list – get a small journal, notepad or just sheet of paper, and fill it every day with five things for which you are grateful. You will soon realize how many tiny yet wonderful things have accumulated in your life.
  2. Start your day with thanks – if you happen to be religious or spiritual, wake up and thank the Universe, God, or any divine form of energy or higher power you worship. An example could be “thank you for letting me see another beautiful day.” Repeating this each morning can slowly rewire the way you see things.
  3. Say “thank you” – to EVERYONE! The person who held the door, your server, your friends, your boss for complimenting you, your teammates for working hard. Thank people for just being. Even if they try to play it off cool, no one ever dislikes being genuinely thanked for being kind or doing a good job.
  4. Write thank you notes – it doesn’t matter how long you’ve put them off, write letters to people who have recently given you gifts or cards. Write thank you notes to your friends for being the friends they are. Write a thank you note to the person who smiled at you and made your day, even if you don’t know them and have no way of giving them the note.
  5. Thank yourself – no matter what anyone says, you are doing the best you can, so thank yourself for that. You’re here, living despite any challenges you may be facing. You’re awesome, thanks for being you! Write yourself a note or just look in the mirror and say it.
  6. Share – when we truly appreciate the abundance in our lives, we are more willing to share it. I believe this can work backwards, though; when we share, we often become more aware of our abundance.
  7. Make a phone call – call a grandparent, and ask him or her to tell you a story from his or her life. Ask your dad to tell you his favorite recipe, or your mom to tell you more about her favorite hobby. Asking others about themselves is a way to show we care, we are interested and we’re glad they’re here.
  8. Take a deep breath – and notice the air filling your lungs. That, in itself, is a miracle, and the more we slow down, stop to smell the roses and feel the air in our lungs, the more we train ourselves to realize these small but beautiful things.

Thank you for reading! How do you show your gratitude? Share below!

Image: MTSOfan

Education

For those of you applying for college, declaring a major can be a little nerve wrecking. Photography majors have things to consider but they also have a lot of fun!

Creativity.

Want to do a fantasy photoshoot? Paint with developer chemistry? Photograph… without a camera? The photo world is vast and growing. It has become acceptable as an art, so you’re not only studying the technical aspect of photography, but also art and history and current events. You start applying your creativity to other places. If you write or paint, you start putting detail into the smaller things. In work, you might have out of the box ideas that would benefit you and who ever you’re working for. You learn to be a bit more open-minded. Have fun with it!

New friends, new perspectives.

When you go to university, you meet people from all over the world. That comes in handy when you have art galleries, thesis projects, ans collaboration assignments. Your new friends love photography just like you, but in different ways. You guys eventually will grow together and learn from each other. In some cases, you make lifelong friends. You’ll also see the world differently. You’ll notice the light coming through the windows, the shape of shadows, the way your reflection mimics the mannequin on the other side. Because of the types of classes you take, you’ll start noticing the various fonts, colors, and designs on advertisements. You’llstart seeing scenes in movies and think, wow, that landscape was amazing. I wish they cropped it more. It’s silly, but it’s fun, and when you meet people who think like you, it’s pretty amazing!

The meaning of life.

Ok, maybe you don’t learn the meaning of life. But you do learn about everything else. From news and events to self portraits, your experiments with the medium that is photography will take you places, let you see and think about things you never even thought to consider before.

Photography is a beautiful and deep subject to spend a few years on. Even if you learn that you’re not the best technically or conceptually, you still grow as a person, and what else is college for except to learn about yourself and the world?

Being a photography major is a lot of work, and sometimes it can drive you crazy. At the same
time, being a photography major is so amazing that it leaves you breathless and wanting
more. Whether that comes from learning, from meeting new people, from seeing in new
perspectives, or from realizing that you’re growing and being more than you were before, you
will come to find that being a photography major is more than simply photography. It is much,
much more.

Image: Rev Stan