CollegeHealthWellness

After a long day of classes, work, socializing, and just dealing with life in general (especially in college), finding the perfect way to unwind can be harder than it seems. Most people turn to Netflix and munch on a big bag of chips, however that type of vegetation can actually be more detrimental to your mental and physical health than you think and cause you more stress in the long run. Here are eight healthier ways to relax.

Go For a Walk

Get away from your home/dorm room and find a patch of nature. Find a bench or a tree to lean on and just breathe in the nature around you. Learning to engage your senses in a natural environment can relax your body and mind. Do not spend this time on your phone – disconnect from your busy life for a while, at least ten minutes, and clear your mind from your daily responsibilities and instead focus on your breathing and senses.

Take a Nap

While this might be more of a mid-day way to unwind, naps can really help turn around your stressed or unhappy mood. It can help rejuvenate the body and clear the mind. Take a maximum twenty minute catnap (nothing more than 30 minutes!) or else you’ll fall into deep sleep and feel groggy.

Journal

Some people find it relaxing to write down their day. Whether you’re writing down what made your day difficult or triumphant, it’s been found that journaling is a positive way to deconstruct your day. Lisa Kaplin, PsyD, is a life coach and she suggests journaling as a method of stress management. It can be multiple pages of pouring out your soul, or just a line or two about your day. However, if it becomes more of a task than a reliever to maintain a journal, skip it; it could just create more stress to keep doing it if it’s not something you have your heart in.

Make a To-Do List (Or Any List)

Some people find that a helpful way to destress is to prepare themselves for the next day or the rest of the week. If time management is difficult for you take a few minutes to write down what homework or tasks you need to finish this week, errands you need to run, groceries you need to get, etc. Writing your must-dos down forces you to get organized, but also it allows you to put a pause on the present and whatever is stressing you out right now. Having everything written down is a physical way to download information you’re trying to remember inside your head onto paper. You can even make a list of what is stressing you out, and that will create a real space to figure why something is stressing you out, and how you can fix it.

Do Some Breathing Exercises

As silly as this might sound initially, sitting or lying down and focusing on your breathing can really help clear your mind and help you think more clearly. Taking deep breaths slows down the heart rate and calms the body. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, your stomach rising and falling, and concentrate on your body and how it feels, ignoring outside distractions.

Stretch your Body

Stretching, or even doing some light yoga, before bed relaxes the body and can clear the mind of an overly stressful day. Regardless of your level of yoga or flexibility, stretching can help with relieving stress throughout the body. Many people carry stress in their shoulders and backs, causing them to develop sloped shoulders and poor posture. Fitness Magazine and Shape both have some good stretches to help with these problems.

Have a Cup of Tea

It’s been found that having a hot drink can make you friendlier, according to The Guardian. An experiment done by the University of Colorado Boulder found that the participants who held a warm drink rather than a cold one tended to have a warmer personality and reacted better when introduced to someone. Along with this, the process of preparing a warm drink, and then holding and drinking it can help relax your mind and help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Talk to a Friend

Regardless if you’re more of an extrovert or introvert, talking to a friend or someone you’re comfortable with can help you unwind. Going out to get a cup of coffee, fruit smoothie, or even staying in and just chatting on your couch can be one of the best ways to help you stop worrying about your day and let go of whatever is bothering you. You could talk to them to work through your stresses, or just use that time with them to focus on anything else going on in your life and put a pause on your stresses. If you need a distraction from your own stress it can also be nice to refocus your attention and ask them how they are doing.

The Daily Mind has a list of 100 ways to relax and unwind at the end of a long day. The best thing is to find what works for you. While one person might find that hitting up the gym is her best way to unwind,  that might not really be your style, and that’s okay! You might find that rereading a favorite book is your best way to calm down. Another person’s might be meditation. Find whatever works for you and relax for the rest of the evening.

Image: Jay Mantri

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we first discovered Diamond Troutman’s photography, we were stunned and impressed. She manages to capture the essence of the subjects she photographs in subtle yet powerful ways. As a content creator, Diamond pays attention to her surroundings, is aware of her senses and observations, and gives herself writing prompts to stay sharp. Diamond seizes her youth every day, and she has a loaded schedule creating content for The Style Line, Conscious Magazine, the French Institute Alliance Française, and Life & Thyme Magazine. Oh, and she also speaks four languages – French, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic.

We’re so inspired by Diamond’s go-getter attitude, discipline, and hunger for knowledge. Read on to learn more about how she organizes her busy days, tips she has for learning a new language, and the advice she has for those interested in being content creators.

Name: Diamond Troutman
Education: Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Literature and Sociology from Drew University
Follow: pariselsewhere.com / @pariselsewhere

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

Diamond Troutman: ‘Seizing Your Youth’ means exploring what makes you happy and chasing after it every chance you get.

CJ: You attended Drew University and studied French Literature and Language and Sociology. How did you determine what to study?

DT: While many know me now as “la parisienne” behind Paris Elsewhere, my life in The City of Light (including my studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle University and volunteer work at Élèves Décrocheurs and Le Club Barbès) was never quite planned. Before beginning college, I was a student of three foreign languages (Spanish, French and Chinese) and upon my arrival at Drew University, I added Arabic language studies to the mix. My objective was to major in Linguistics and minor in Sociology – I soon discovered that the Linguistics major was no longer offered and opted for Spanish, before ultimately deciding on French.

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CJ: You created the travel and lifestyle blog Paris Elsewhere to introduce Paris as you know it: a city of people and businesses participating in communities, relationships, and their own unique stories. How did living in Paris influence you and impact your life?

DT: The strongest influence Paris has had on my life is my regard towards tradition. Since my involvement in the United States as the Director of Communication for the Alliance Française of Greater Phoenix, I have witnessed firsthand the invaluable role tradition plays in unifying people of a shared culture. Coming together to celebrate over food and conversation is health giving and something to be anticipated and enjoyed.

CJ: Besides English, you speak four languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. Very impressive! Where did you learn to speak these languages, and what tips do you have for those learning a new language?

DT: I was first introduced to French at age 11, when play dates with my friend turned into casual lessons of language and culture with her French mother. I truly believe this was the sweetest way to learn French joie de vivre, as I was introduced to traditional pastries like sablés, clafoutis, madeleines and more, in addition to grammar and vocabulary lessons.

I started learning Spanish during middle school, but it wasn’t until I met my best friend Valeria, that I began to practice the language outside of school. We were the closest of friends, so close that I was considered part of the family. We spoke in Spanish all the time; our friendship indirectly immersed me in the culture.

I picked up Chinese my freshman year of high school and strengthened my studies with weekend sessions at a Chinese school and language camps during the summers.

I was introduced to Arabic at Drew University. I studied the language all throughout my third and fourth year in college and stayed with a host family in Rabat, Morocco for a summer.

What’s my number one tip for learning a language? Immersion! Listen to music, watch movies, join a conversation classes or even travel abroad for a short stay. Put yourself in the setting to live another culture.

CJ: Travel is a big part of your life. How has traveling influenced you, and is there a particular trip you have taken that stands out in your mind?

DT: The first day of my Mandarin Chinese language class was the most challenging yet; understanding characters as references for words required a new sort of discipline and dedication. All the same, my stay in Chengdu, China compelled me to *just do it. I listened to the radio on the way to school, ordered my drinks at Starbucks, enjoyed pastries from the nearby bakery, all in Chinese. The more comfortable I became with the language and culture, the less of a barrier the characters seemed to present.

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CJ: You are a pro at content creation, whether you’re contributing to The Style Line, working as an Editorial Collaborator for Conscious Magazine, or consulting on strategic media and community relations for the French Institute Alliance Française. How do you brainstorm content to create, and what is your process for executing your ideas?

DT: As a non-fiction food and travel writer, my brainstorming is heavily influenced by my senses. Location means everything. If I’m writing a story and hit a roadblock, I’ll complete a writing prompt that challenges my awareness of place and people. I joke, what’s a pen to a person if not to write a story, and interestingly enough, I don’t always carry paper on me and I’m often left to jotting notes on napkins at coffee shops. My approach to note taking and writing prompts looks a little like a crossword puzzle. I write the words that come to mind and find a way to link them together.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from your experiences in content creation with a variety of publications, companies, and websites?

DT: I’ve learned that the process to content creation is most valuable. I am passionate about establishing a collaborative client environment to ensure pre-production work aligns with the client’s anticipation and brand identity. It’s rather easy to misinterpret ideas, so I’ve become keen on incorporating a mood board and weekly consultations to stay on the same page with clients.

CJ: You are also an incredible photographer. You contribute writing and photography to Life & Thyme Magazine. What is the process for putting together content for this publication documenting food culture around the globe? How long does this process take?

DT: Thank you so much! Like on any other platform, my process for editorial work is very extensive. My general subject concerns food, lifestyle and travel, so the first step is to begin researching current trends and unique developments in the area. To do this, I will read local newspapers/magazines, observe social media reviews, or what’s most exciting, venture outside of home to see the city for myself. Once I’ve discovered the exact focus of my article, I study it thoroughly to learn and uncover whatever questions I may have. After structuring the interview, I move into determining the visual component to my story. I observe elements of the trade and location, position my storyboard and when the time comes, capture the shot as best as I imagined. Pre-production can take between 1-2 weeks, the interview and photo production could take 1-3 days, and the writing and correspondence with editors could take up to 2 weeks.

I am currently in pre-production for my editorial work with Life & Thyme. While many may find this initial stage somewhat challenging, I am enjoying it to the fullest! Pre-production has allowed me to explore and enjoy the arts and cuisine of Downtown Phoenix, scout locations and provide applications for those interested in participating in the photo shoot(s). Most importantly, pre-production has allowed me to really take pleasure in my work. I look forward to also offering opportunities for assistant production (as a second shooter) on photography assignments.

CJ: From your ‘Kinship by Cuisine: A Conscious Coming Together’ column at Conscious Magazine to Life & Thyme, cuisine and food culture is a big focus in your work. Why are the topics of food, culture, and travel interesting to you?

DT: From EF travels in Italy and Greece, to off-campus seminars in Morocco and China, travel has often been paired with my educational pursuits and has opened my eyes to appreciate cultural differences. Learning has a pivotal influence on one’s values and passions.

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CJ: What advice do you have for those interested in being content creators, writers, or photographers?

DT: If you haven’t already, discover the creative community in your city for friendship and mentorship! You can do this by attending events like Instameets (Instagram-facilitated meet-ups) and Create + Cultivate, in-person workshops with The School of Styling or online courses via Skillshare! Your community will inspire and support you.

When you’re ready, social media is a great tool for introducing your style to a public audience and developing a dynamic portfolio  – I suggest Instagram for photography, Twitter for writing (ie: developing strategy for effective short copy) and Steller for content creation (graphic design, photography, writing).

CJ: With a variety of projects, how do you stay organized and keep everything running smoothly?

DT: While many may perceive the freelance career as unconventional in regards to the flexibility of office hours and work environment, it takes discipline and motivation to structure this kind of business and stay afloat with multiple projects. Currently, I manage projects with a variety of brands and publications. Each month, I have to honor my in-person responsibilities, such as board meetings, client consultations, creative conferences and events, etc. To keep everything running smoothly, I have to coordinate closely with my agenda on a professional and personal basis. For my personal brand, I’m implementing an editorial calendar for more consistent social media and blog posts. For my professional work, I have designated office hours (onsite for the French Institute) and deadlines for work submissions. Having picked up more work for social media content creation this year, I’m in the process of defining client-specific editorial calendars and mood boards, which are accessible via a private page on my website. To plan meetings and shoots, I use Google Calendar, my booking & availability calendar on my website, and my paper agenda.

CJ: What are some favorite books, resources, and websites that have influenced you?

DT: For gathering insight from successful creative professionals, I look to The Everygirl. For further guidance on software and approach to business practices, I attend Skillshare courses. As a writer, Writer’s Digest is an indispensable resource. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss is a good read into 2016.

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

DT: Personally, I’m looking to improve on my diet and sleep. The Fitbit Flex has been instrumental in regulating my water intake and sleeping habits. I’m somewhat of a night owl, so when inspiration strikes, I will stay up as long as it takes to make the most of it. All the while, when busy writing or editing away, I tend to not eat as I should.

Professionally, I would love to take up a new course. I’m following along with The Everygirl’s 30-Day Challenge of learning a new skill. I’d love to expand my knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite.

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

DT: Write and photograph more. Get out there! Take the train into New York City more frequently, collaborate with other creatives and attend events to stay motivated. Find any opportunity to exercise your talents; it will pay off.

*Phrase by Nike

Diamond Troutman Qs

Portrait courtesy of Dreylon Vang, Copyright 2015 (location: Cartel Coffee Lab) / Photo speaking with Garance Dore: Courtesy of Paris Elsewhere 2013 (location: Open Studio, New York City) / Remaining stock photography images: Copyright Diamond Troutman 2015 (location: Royal Coffee Bar)

Skills

It might sound like cheating – it’s not!

To start, let’s clarify that we at Carpe Juvenis are not condoning fraud to achieve your goals – that sort of behavior harms others and can have disastrous consequences from an ethical and legal standpoint. In contrast to that, acting a certain way in order to cultivate good habits, confidence, and success is far from unethical. All you’re doing is presenting a side of yourself that might normally need some coaxing to come out. Faking your way to success is more like a magician’s sleight of hand than smoke and mirrors. And honestly, who would fault you for wanting to improve yourself (albeit with a little misdirection)?

Here’s what we’re really suggesting: Act like the version of yourself that you want to become. Before you realize it, you’ll already have become the “you” that you wanted to be.

Amy Cuddy, researcher and professor at the Harvard School of Business, has studied the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels as it relates to power and emotion. Her 2012 TED talk, in which she discusses her landmark study on the role of body language and hormone levels, ranks as the second most-watched video in the organization’s history at over 28 million views. If you haven’t already seen it, take some time after reading this article to watch it via the link above.

At its core, Cuddy’s research points to this: social stimuli and hormone levels have a dialectical relationship. Thus, body language and feelings of power and confidence are engaged in a positive feedback loop. We all know that having high levels of the stress hormone cortisol will affect one’s outward behavior (feelings can dictate one’s behavior), but Cuddy’s talk tells us that the reverse can also be true (behavior can dictate one’s feelings). Acting powerless can lead to feeling powerless while acting confidently can lead to actually feeling more confident.

In her talk, Cuddy shares the story of one of her students, who, after not participating the entire semester, came to her and said that class participation was too difficult for her. The student was shy, unconfident, and admitted that she felt like she didn’t belong there. Cuddy responded by saying that she did belong there, and she should fake confidence until she actually became confident. Fake it, and see how far it gets you.

This story – of feeling out of place, intimidated, and thoroughly convinced that you are not of the proper caliber to succeed – is my story, your story, our story. We’ve all experienced moments of hesitation and self-doubt. When confronting those difficulties, we owe it to ourselves to use every reasonable tool at our disposal to break down the walls that block our way to success.

To achieve that success, keep two thoughts in mind.

First, accept that you are a conglomeration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Leverage that variability, and do you. It’s trite, but true. Sometimes the most perfunctory thoughts can be the most profound. Let’s deconstruct the do you message real quick. It doesn’t mean you should live fast and die hard, abide by your emotional whims, and act selfishly. Rather, it means that you should be the best you can be in the face of adversity. When challenged, does doing you include selling yourself short and limiting yourself? No way. When challenged, doing you includes presenting the side of yourself that can most readily tackle the issue. Ignore the haters that say you’re one way when you’re actually another.

(As a side note, I would like to add that you should NOT flatly disregard what other people think about you. The whole reason that faking it to success is so important is because other people’s thoughts about you can affect your life in incredibly powerful ways. “Not caring what other people think” is cognitive dissonance at its most paradoxical. You shouldn’t care about others’ unjustified judgments, but should certainly care about their thoughts, opinions, and prejudices as it relates to you. Often we don’t realize that, because we’re privileged, it’s easy to just disregard others because we don’t think it will harm us. Ask anybody from the Black Lives Matter or feminist movements if they think others’ opinions can be weapons – sometimes unconsciously – and if we should care about those opinions.)

Second, destroy the notion of one’s “place.” Your “place” is the most insidious, reprehensible form of prejudice, and accepting your “place” without using every feasible tool at your disposal to achieve your goals is truly a shame. Show me the mandate that says variance in lifestyle isn’t freely allowed. Faking it until success means taking a stand against self-inflicted shortcomings and tacit acceptance of one’s “place.”

So fake it. Pretend you’re confident and push past the things that tell you otherwise. You owe it to yourself.

Image: Unsplash

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

It is always pure joy seeing a Broadway show. The actors are insanely talented, the music is catchy, the costumes are gorgeous, and the set designs are stunning. When it comes to set design, one show in particular stands out in our minds: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a musical about Monty Navarro, an heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession by eliminating the eight pesky relatives who stand in his way. We saw the show last year on Broadway, and not only did the show blow us away with its dark humor, wit, and enjoyable show tunes, but the set was so grand that it was essentially its own character.

We were over the moon when we had the opportunity to interview the award winning theater, opera, and dance stage designer Alexander Dodge. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is just one of the many incredible sets he has designed (also for which he received his second Tony Award Nomination!). Alexander has also designed for productions such as Julius Caesar, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night.

In addition to two Tony Award Nominations, a Lortel Award, a Drama Desk Nomination, and an Outer Critics Circle Nomination, he has also been the recipient of two Elliot Norton Awards, three Independent Reviewers of New England Awards, two Connecticut Critics Circle Awards, two San Diego Critics Circle Awards, and a Bay Area Critics Award. Alexander continues to impress with his attention to detail and incredible designs.

Born in Switzerland, Alexander grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. He attended Bennington College in Vermont, spent a semester abroad in London, and later trained with the talented Ming Cho Lee at the Yale School of Drama. Alexander’s credentials and experiences with stage design makes him stand out above his peers, and even with his continued success, he is a pleasure to talk to and is generous with his time. Also, this September, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder goes on tour! If the tour is coming to your city, you’ll be able to see the amazing set design Alexander has created.

Name: Alexander Dodge
Education: BA in Drama from Bennington College; MFA in Design from Yale School of Drama
Follow: alexanderdodgedesign.com

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

Alexander Dodge: Do things you want to do when you can and when you’re young. I have a one-year-old son and I’m focused on getting him to understand the idea of doing all the things he can when he can. You never know what’s going to come ahead in life that will stop you from doing something you could have done when you were young.

CJ: You majored in Drama from Bennington College. How did you decide what to major in?

AD: What’s great about Bennington is that they’re all about learning by doing and want you to dabble in a lot of things before deciding what to major in. Every year you have a work semester so my first year I worked in a gallery in Soho, my second year I worked in San Diego at the Old Globe Theater, my third year I worked at the Young Vic in London, and my fourth year I worked at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. I had these great experiences of learning what was good or what wasn’t for me. After a couple of years of that I figured out what I really liked doing. And we had a great performing arts center there – it was the same size as one you’d find at a major university but for 500 students. That was incredible. You could get lost in some of the backstage stuff, it was really cool.

CJ: You also received your master’s of fine arts degree in Design from Yale School of Drama where you trained with Ming Cho Lee. What inspired you to go back to school to receive this degree?

AD: Going to Yale was great because it was completely structured – in the three years there was only one elective class you could take. Which is great in a way and I loved being at a large university for a while. The campus was awesome, and Ming Cho Lee is amazing. I absorbed so much and it was so important being there and being around the other students who you learn so much from. So many places teach you different skills, and Ming Cho Lee was really about teaching you to become an artist. To really see, and really look, and figure out how to interpret the world around you.

CJ: How do you work with the rest of the crew to create the physical stage that the audience sees?

AD: Unlike architects we don’t have engineering backgrounds, so we’re not required to know exactly how to construct and put things together, but we make suggestions and we’re really only responsible for the look. So there’s a technical director for each project – either based at a theater or based at a commercial shop. If you’re doing a Broadway show there aren’t any scene shops here so everything gets built elsewhere. So I’ll give them a pretty good sense of the technical drawings, and then they’ll really figure out how to construct it. I’ll also give them a color model, renderings, paint elevations and all that, and they’ll then take those drawings and do technical drawings of what’s inside and what’s actually keeping the walls up. You also work very closely with the director to figure out how you can put everything together in the space you have to work with.

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CJ: You are a set and costume designer for theater, opera, and dance. What does it mean to be a designer, and what do your daily tasks look like?

AD: Today is all about finishing up a model and coming up with new designs I’m doing for a new show this summer, as well as reading a play I just got offered. So it really depends. It tends to be office time when I’m in the city, but I fly all the time and it’s a lot of travel.

CJ: When starting a new project, what does your process look like?

AD: Collaboration is the name of the game. I find that the shows I’ve worked on that have been the most successful are the ones that we all work together. I’ve also done shows where I basically hand them the set design and they go with it. Other times it’s a lot of back and forth and figuring it out together, which can feel much more satisfying. Also the director might have a take on the piece that’s important. The text is read first and foremost, then I go to the director and talk about what he or she thinks, then there’s interaction with the costume designer an the lighting designer. Usually costumes and set are what we start with because of the nature of how long those things take to create and build. We have to start right away. Nothing is by chance – everything has to be decided, down to the buttons and the trim on the jackets, the height of the door frame, and so on.

CJ: What is an important skill you need as a set designer?

AD: Trying to carve out time for myself is really good. If I don’t go to the gym in the morning and have my time, I’ll have a million excuses to not go in the afternoon. But it’s time for myself and it’s important for my own sanity. Even though I’m on the road a lot, trying to keep a business routine is really good too. This past year I’ve made a big push to carve out vacation time, because before that it was all about trying to grab a weekend here or a weekend there, and that was kind of it. But the theater is very different where we plow through national holidays and don’t really have a typical summer season because there are always shows going on. I remember once I did a show in Boston and we started technical rehearsal on December 26th and we went right through the New Year – it was a whirlwind of work at a time when you’d really love to be with your family.

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

AD: Something I care a lot about is LGBT youth and youth programs like the Hetrick-Martin Institute. There’s also a program called Live Out Loud which provides scholarships for LGBT youth. I also love smaller theater groups like The Civilians – they do a whole variety of investigative theater, which is so interesting.

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be a set and costume designer do now to set him or herself up for success?

AD: I think try to get out and see as many things as possible is important, especially if you’re close to any major theater area. Even if you’re in a smaller town, take advantage of what’s there. Familiarize yourself with what you’re interested in. Try to travel to places that offer different shows. Seizing those things, especially if you want to do this business, is important. And see a variety of things – see operas, concerts, modern dance, and museums.

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

AD: Being more present and taking more time for my family and me is something that I’m really working on. It’s difficult with work, but I don’t want to be that person where my job is everything. Time with your family is not to be undervalued.

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

AD: I would say don’t major in drama – branch out more than you did. I think that I zoomed in on what I knew I wanted to do, but in hindsight I’m thinking it would have been good to take an anthropology class or more science courses. In grad school I decided I wanted to be in a show for the first time, and it was great. I was on the stage at Yale University and it was such a great experience.

Alexander Dodge Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

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

EducationFinanceSkills

Whether you are extremely cautious about how you spend your money or you only check your bank statement once in a blue moon, keeping on budget can be difficult when we least expect it. Maybe you grab dinner with a friend and it ends up costing more than you thought, or you need to make a last minute purchase that you can’t find at a discount. Whatever it may be, here are some ways to help keep you on budget no matter what hiccups come your way.

  1. Buy in “Bulk”. This tip may seem counter intuitive, but hear me out. Think carefully about the things you’re constantly re-purchasing, whether they’re razor blades, toilet paper, laundry detergent, rice, pasta, so on and so forth. If you know that you use certain things over and over without fail, consider buying in “bulk.” That doesn’t mean buying 1,000 units of toilet paper at a time, but instead of grabbing a pack of four rolls every week try buying a 16 or 24 pack online for less cost per roll. It may seem frustrating to spend more money than you’re used to at once, but in the long run you can be saving a lot more. Food can be a bit tricker – make sure you’re only buying non-perishable goods that you can store in a cool, dry space.
  2. Always Make a Shopping List. When you head to the grocery store or mall – or even a restaurant for that matter – without having thought through what you need, you’ll be more likely to throw unnecessary things in your cart that you want in that moment but regret later. Go through your refrigerator and pantry and sort out what you already have so that you don’t buy duplicates. When you go to the mall, park closest to the store you’re going to and make a beeline once you get inside. Don’t let your eyes wander or else your money might, too.
  3. Know What Your Necessities Cost. Sit down and plot out what you need to pay every month. This includes bills, groceries, transportation – the basics that you can’t go without. Add all those numbers up and subtract it from what you’re earning, and you’ll have a more realistic understanding of how much extra money you really have. Consider putting another 10-20% of that “extra” money away in a savings account. Without knowing your bottom line you’re sure to overspend.
  4. Set Aside Spending Money. It’s a great idea to build in spontaneity and fun into your life. Set aside a “fun” fund and keep that money separate from your necessities and savings. It might help to keep this extra spending money in cash form, so that you have a tangible idea of how much there really is to spend each week. Sometimes swiping a card allows us to dissociate from the fact that we are spending money, and we tend to over-do it.
  5. Create a Long Term Goal. Think about your financial goals. This doesn’t need to be super complicated. It can be as simple as “I want to save $100 in the next five months.” That means that you need to be putting aside $20 each month to hit that goal. Maybe there’s something you need to buy for work or school – figure out how much that will cost and set a goal to be able to afford it and in what amount of time. Long term goals can be as basic as you want them to be – the main point is that you’ll be learning how to save little by little and it won’t feel as overwhelming.

Good luck with staying on budget and let me know what your tips are!

Image: Flickr

Skills

We’ve all been there – the weekend finally rolls around but you still have items on your To-Do list and you can’t shake the nagging feeling that you should be doing more. Whether you’re in school, working at a company, or self-employed, there’s always a way to feel like you could be filling your weekends up with work instead of fun (or anything but work). But choosing to let your academic or professional career dominate your life might not be the smartest, healthiest, or most productive way to live.

It turns out that over-working yourself can lead to a higher risk of depression, a disrupted sleep schedule, extreme eye strain, and loads of unnecessary stress. So as tempting as it may be to lock yourself in Friday though Sunday, reconsider that decision using these seven tips.

  1. Prioritize your To-Do list. If your To-Do list is still full by Friday afternoon, take ten minutes to prioritize the items. Consider what must be done that day, and what can wait until Monday. Break your big list down into a few small ones labeled by day, and if you absolutely have to get something work-related done on the weekend limit yourself to just two items. Otherwise, write them in for Monday or Tuesday.
  2. Make plans with someone. Force yourself to step away from work by making plans with another person. The more pressure you put on yourself to fulfill a promise, the more likely you are to follow through with it. Text or call a friend you haven’t seen in a while (and preferably not someone you work with or the conversation might steer back to work and trigger stress) and set a time to walk around outside or grab a meal. You’ll be less tempted to sit inside if someone else is depending on you. Set a specific time and confirm your hangout near the end of the work or school week.
  3. Have something to look forward to. If you don’t feel like seeing other people, you should still find something that you can look forward to. Block out time during the weekend to go to a concert, try a new restaurant, get some errands done, or go to the park and walk a few laps. Actually write down the time and activity you’re going to do in your notebook or iCal.
  4. Pre-schedule emails and posts. Technology is a necessary evil. Luckily there are ways to schedule emails and posts ahead of time so that you aren’t always logging-in to hit “send.” Carve out an extra hour each week to get ahead on writing emails that need to be sent the following week, and pre-write Tweets, posts, and messages that can be scheduled ahead of time.
  5. Figure out your stress-triggers. Think super honestly about the things that stress you out the most. Maybe it’s having a looming deadline for that term paper, or wanting to rehearse your business pitch a few more times. Whatever those triggers may be, address them and write them down in a safe place. Once they’ve been written down you’re less likely to forget what you need to do. Keeping tasks in your head instead of on paper is a great way to bottle up anxiety about potentially forgetting to do something. Be honest about what can wait, and what needs to get done now.
  6.  Turn off your technology. Press the off button. Shut your computer down. Turn off your phone or leave it at home. Even if it’s just for one afternoon, giving your eyes and fingers a break from the screen and keyboard will do you a world of good. It’s the simplest and most effective way to disconnect from your classmates, professors, and bosses. Limit yourself to checking your phone once a day, and shut it off again when you’re done.

It’s not always the easiest thing to step away from our professional and academic responsibilities, but giving yourself a break means you’re making a decision to invest into your long term health. The better care you take of your body and mind, the more stamina you’ll have to succeed.

Image: StokPic

EducationSkills

There are literally one million ways to concoct a stellar résumé, and another million ways to mess it up. Developing a résumé depends on the role you’re applying for, the company you’re applying to, and where you are in your career (to name a few). Plus, if you think that living breathing HR employees are reading them, it’s not always that simple anymore. Many companies use programs to scan résumés and search for keywords and phrases that match their job opening. Times are changing, and so is the recruiting landscape.

In a previous article I mentioned some of the different factors that create a successful résumé. But to be more specific, I wanted to dig a little deeper into the do’s and don’ts. To be fair, there are certainly many other reasons why your résumé would be at risk to be voted off the island, just as much as the reasons below might not matter to some companies. But based on my experience these are the best ways to ruin your chances of getting your dream job. Beware!

  1. Using silly font. This is obvious but I’m going to say it anyway: Stick to the Times New Roman-Calibri-Arial family. This is not the time to whip out Comic Sans or Century Gothic. They give no added value and can be distracting to the hiring manager. I’m not sure what type of company would be enthusiastic about someone who uses Lucida Handwriting, but I’d be interested to know if there is one! I suggest just keeping it simple. Additionally, it may give the impression that your focus is not on the main objective of the résumé (which is to hire you!).
  1. Not proofread and making typos. I also mentioned this before in another post: By sending in your résumé it is assumed that you (and others) have proofread it repeatedly and decided that this final copy is your best. If there is a spelling error or grammatical mistake, it screams carelessness. Not to say that you are careless (we’re all guilty of errors), but play it safe and triple check.
  1. References Available Upon Request.” Years ago, including this phrase at the bottom of your résumé was popular, but not anymore. There’s LinkedIn, Facebook, and other ways of learning more about candidates than just their résumés. Plus, if a company truly wants this information from you, they will ask (and it’s usually on application forms, anyway). At that point, I’d assume you’d readily provide it. If not, be prepared to explain why. My standpoint is to either include your references with their contact information already on your résumé/on a separate sheet or don’t mention it at all.
  1. Filling up space with irrelevant/excessive information. We’ve all been there: crafted one big, perfect, I-can-do-everything résumé and went on an application spree. It’s not a bad résumé, so someone has to email you back, right? Wrong. Your résumé should be aligned with the job description, as well as the company’s mission and values. Even using the same words as the job posting is helpful. If you’re applying for an administrative job, there is no need to include your membership to the Art Club in 2010. So unless you did something spectacular that makes you more productive in the desired role, nix it. As for the length of your résumé, that is widely debated. I don’t have a right or wrong answer. But my opinion? Keep it at one page, unless you have over 10 years of professional experience. As a young 20-something, pick the top three or four things that scream “HIRE ME I’M AWESOME” and leave the rest out. Brevity is key.
  1. Using terrible descriptions. Imagine a résumé that actually represents your skills and accomplishments? Crazy, right? Hiring managers want to know what you can do and what is unique about your skills. You have one page to bait the company into asking you for an interview. Consider describing the changes you made in your role, what you learned, how you can apply it elsewhere, the projects you worked on, and how you did it. For example, if you were an Office Assistant, listing job duties like “answered phones, retrieved office mail, supported other departments” is not helpful. It says nothing. They know what office assistants do, so don’t regurgitate job tasks to them. Better descriptions would be: “Provided excellent administrative support between departments” and “Effectively responded to all incoming calls regarding the company mission, as well as provide exceptional customer service to additional inquiries.” It gives a little oomph to your rap sheet, despite how simple your job was. It at least shows that you cared enough to phrase your words eloquently. You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this.

Image: Startup Stock Photos

Skills

Their are many mistake’s you can make, but not all of which you’ll have the chance too make up for.

If that sentence didn’t make you cringe or shake your head, please keep reading. Poor grammar and spelling are both disappointing and alarming when we look at how prevalent they are. Ever go through comments on a blog post and read a perfectly insightful opinion, but it was perfectly botched with errors? It’s frightening. To casually communicate through text can be relatively inconsequential – skipping your commas won’t rock the boat when texting mom. But some errors have bigger implications, and are worsened when used in professional or educational settings.

Getting into such habits as failing to (or deliberately choosing not to) distinguish the difference between there, they’re, and their or incorrectly using plural possessives (cats’, cat’s, cats) can have repercussions. Here are my top three reasons why you should never make these mistakes again:

1. It gives the impression that you are not attentive to detail.

So you’re typing away and happen to put the apostrophe in the wrong place, or you use your when you meant to type you’re, and you think to yourself  “whatever, they know what I meant.” Sure, the reader knows what you meant, but you risk them wondering what other types of small mistakes you make. When you’re just starting out in your career and earning your stripes, getting it right is non-negotiable.

What to do:

Simply take a second glance at your email. If you’re unsure about a word or phrase, Google it or have a coworker take a look. For extra cookie points, ask your boss’s opinion. They’ll appreciate your effort and can make other suggestions for improvement.

2. It makes you sound, well, not smart.

Whether you’re the CEO, the director, or just starting out as an entry-level associate, the last thing you want is have others assume you don’t know your literary basics (because you do!). You want to be seen as a valuable contributor to your team, and your brilliant suggestions and ideas can be doubted if your emails are flooded with poor grammar and typos. It could discredit you as a source of knowledge and even cause a misunderstanding (you meant to mention your college degree, not your collage degree!).

What to do:

When expressing your ideas, be as clear and concise as humanly possible. State the objective, the procedure (if applicable), and the anticipated outcome. For efficiency, preempt possible questions and include the answers. It’s not a 10-page essay for creative writing, so don’t be afraid to use bullet points. To conclude your email, add “please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.” It shows your willingness to further help explain details as needed.

3. It could cost you a job interview.

Mark Manson (one of my favorite bloggers) refers to grammar mistakes as “basic errors.” In job applications, this faux-pas gets people thrown in the “instant deletion” pile. While he admits to extend some leniency with those who aren’t in the business of writing/editing (such as digital artists), I still personally believe there’s no excuse to mess them up anyway.

What to do:

Proofread! Proofread it a million times, and then have your friend, mom, dad, neighbor, and dog proofread it. You want to have multiple sources to give you the maximum amount of feedback. Make adjustments until it’s perfect.

There you have it! As a warning, beware of those subtle errors that aren’t always staring you right in the face. We’re all guilty of missing the mark at one point or another, but it’s important to try and correct it whenever possible.  As millennials, we are, after all, the most educated generation in history.

Image: Stewart Black

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

Skills

Since I was small, I dreamed of how thrilling it would be to live in my own little chic apartment in a city. Along with a miniature black labradoodle ironically named Cochon (means “pig” in French), I would have a true Carrie a la ‘Sex in the City’ lifestyle. Today, some of those things are true – I live on my own, I’ve decorated an apartment to my liking, and my urban home is indeed quaint (the adorable dog and fabulous shoe collection are still a work in progress). Leaning slightly more on the introverted side of the personality scale, I deeply enjoy living alone. But I won’t deny there have been a few challenging moments I didn’t anticipate. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far on my journey:

1. How far from home are you really?

About a month into being in my apartment, I realized all my dishes were organized the same way as in my childhood home – plates to the left of the stove and glasses on the shelf above. It was almost comical noticing I’d adopted my father’s extreme neatness and mother’s particular ways of taking care of the house. Who knew everything would come full circle?

2. You are now the bug-killer, toilet-fixer, and furniture-assembler.

All the terrifying and annoying things you would typically ask your dad, a male friend, or a roommate to do become your job. Aside from bug-killing, which admittedly challenged my entire existence, I am proud to say I’ve turned into quite the handy-woman. Don’t worry, it all gets easier with practice.

3. Being yourself, in all your weirdness, never felt so good.

Want to eat waffles for three nights straight without anyone judging you? Go for it. Feel like spending 4 hours watching old episodes of ‘Hey Arnold’? Sure, you can. Living by yourself provides the freedom to do what you want on your own time. It doesn’t get much better than that.

4. “Responsible” becomes your middle name.

When you are living alone, you only have yourself to depend on, so you think about everything. For example, you regularly check your mail because there are no longer roommates to do it for you. You take care of your plants and even remember to water them extra when you go out of town. It’s the little things that make you feel like a real adult.

5. You learn about yourself.

Out of everything living alone has taught me, this point is most valuable. Many of us are used to college or other environments where we are constantly surrounded by people. Living alone has given me the opportunity to figure out what works for me in terms of a daily routine that allows me to be productive, relaxed, and focused.

Living by myself was something I have always wanted to challenge myself with. So far, it has been such a rewarding experience. For those considering making the same decision, I say, go for it. You won’t know until you try!

Image: Flickr

HealthSkills

Two steps forward, one step back. Or sometimes, two steps back or even three – and then we’re really lost, asking ourselves how we even got there. The setback comes in all shapes and forms, but always of the same effect. It has a tempting, toxic ability to keep people in a negative state of mind making it more of a stayback than anything else. We feel it when relationships end, whether with a partner or a close friend. We feel stagnant when our career choices don’t reach the expectations we have bred in our minds. We become self-degrading, unconfident, anxious, and fearful versions of ourselves whenever we face circumstances that stunt our flow of life. The sad part about all of this is not the fact that obstacles happen, but rather that our collective response to hardship is to blame ourselves by shutting down. After all, if it’s happening to me then I must be deserving of it, right?

Incorrect. Unfortunate things happen all the time, and a quick reality check can help many of us realize that our problems are not quite as hefty in the big scheme of things. But how do we get out of the mental rewind that keeps replaying the negativity reel? First and foremost, separate your true self from the problem.

STEP 1: You are not the circumstance. The circumstance is happening to you, it is not you. And too often, people feel entirely consumed by the problem almost becoming it.

Tim Storey, world-renowned motivational and inspirational speaker says it best when he describes how people ruminate on their issues. He says that “We nurse it, curse it, and rehearse it.” By doing this, we are conditioning our minds to react to problems by constantly thinking about them and repeating them in our heads. Storey explains in his book Comeback and Beyond that the best way to cope is to “accept the now and take inventory of what is happening.”

STEP 2: Thinking about a problem is different than being aware of what’s happening. When you become aware you are expanding your thought patterns from dwelling on a single issue to seeing the entire picture. Less thinking, and more recognizing. Recognize how you’re feeling and what triggers you to repeat bad thoughts. Knowing how often you nurse, curse, and rehearse will help you work towards stopping those thoughts.

There is great power in what we think. Because of this, we must be very careful with what enters our minds. Setbacks create space in our heads to think negatively, but we can train ourselves to make space in our heads for positivity. It’s about redirecting what we pay attention to. Instead of focusing on what went wrong or what we failed to do, realize that there are unlimited other ways to focus on things that will breed positive thoughts. If you feel like you have nothing, give more. Volunteer, call a friend, help your parents out at home, and experience firsthand what happens when you shift the expected course of action. Your mind is so used to repeating the bad, that when you begin to feed your thoughts with helpfulness and kindness, your emotions begin to change as well.

If you feel lost and confused, be open to getting help from others. It is common for people to think that success is a one person job, and if they can’t do it on their own they don’t know how to be successful. This is twisted thinking. The most successful people understand the importance of mentorship and having a strong team of individuals to support one another in both work and personal life.

STEP 3: Shift your receiver and pick up positive signals. Don’t stay in the setback. Choose to hang out with people that believe in you. Make an appointment to talk to a counselor or therapist. Only read beneficial and substantial articles and follow positive people on social media.

There are so many times in life that we can feel weighed down. A lot of that weight is in what we think and not actually what is happening. Take the time to redirect yourself and don’t forget:

Separate from the problem. Recognize your thought patterns. Shift yourself to get better reception.

“Life is all about course-correcting.” – Arianna Huffington

Image: Raumrot

EducationSkills

The almost-there feeling of getting an interview for graduate school is both an exciting and daunting one. You feel accomplished for sending out those applications and validated that you are headed in the right direction. So pat yourself on the back for making it to the next step and get ready for your interview the right way.

First and foremost, be yourself. Your background and interests were what brought you to the interview and now it’s just a matter of figuring out if the program is the perfect fit for you. Faculty, staff, and current students that are interviewing you are looking for students who are genuinely interested in their program and have unique skills and interests to offer. Believing that you are capable and ready is the best way to start preparing. Once you have that covered, prepare with these four tips:

1. Research and Relate

You’ve researched the school in-depth and you know what it stands for. You know the school’s mission and the goals of your program of interest. Now it’s time to familiarize yourself with more specific information. Look into the course catalog and read about the classes you would be taking. Jotting down notes about the learning outcomes for each course can help give you a framework of the “language” and style of the program. Are there specializations that you are interested in? If so, ask yourself why they interest you.

If you are seeking graduate school, there has been some sort of spark within you that has motivated you to learn more. Asking yourself to examine that spark can help you verbalize how your personal history blends with your curiosity for the program. Other details to look for include what types of internship or fieldwork opportunities they offer, graduate assistantships or fellowships, and faculty-specific research interests that tie in with yours. It’s helpful to have this sort of knowledge bank so you can connect what you have learned and experienced so far with what you will be learning in the future.

2. Know the Interview Format

It’s always good to know if you will be in an individual or group interview. In many cases, a program representative will let you know via phone or email what the interview dynamic will be like. If not, it’s okay to inquire with an admissions counselor. Individual interviews allow you to be the main focus of the panel. One of the best ways to prepare is by writing a list of possible interview questions and having a friend conduct a mock interview with you. Pay attention to the length of your answers. Are you being concise or talking too long? Are you saying “um,” “you know,” and other filler words? What are your hands, arms, and legs doing while you’re talking? Have a colleague take note of fidgeting, awkward pauses, volume, and eye contact.

With group interviews, the attention is divided and things can get a little tricky. Fortunately, there are ways to make group interviews go a lot more smoothly. For starters, non-verbal communication can keep you engaged throughout the interview even when you’re not the one talking. Nodding your head in response to others shows that you are listening and open to what everyone is saying. If the panel asks a question and does not direct anyone to start answering, wait a few moments to gauge the room and be the first to answer if you are ready. If another person begins to answer first, do not worry. The most important thing is what you say, not when you say it. If you’re looking for a way to begin your answer, try short starter statements like “I’ll start this one off,” or “I agree with that and have a similar experience as well,” or “I’ve considered this a lot while applying and…,” or “There are a few things that come to mind including _____ and ______.” Statements like these will help you ease into your answer and help you sound prepared and reflective.

3. Prepare with Questions That Ask More

It is common for faculty and program directors to ask questions that dig deeper than the expected “So why choose our school?” question. Rather than asking a question at surface level, they may ask a question with a different angle to examine how you respond to more difficult subject matter. For example, rather than asking about your opinions or experience with diversity, they may ask what about diversity makes you uncomfortable and how you see yourself overcoming that. Rather than just asking what makes you a good candidate for the program they may ask what you have done to prepare yourself for the rigor of graduate studies. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself the hard questions before the real thing.

4. Absorb and Emit Positivity

Although you may be nervous during your interview, good energy can get you through it. Condition yourself with positive thoughts before and during the interview. Having good thoughts about yourself and those around you can show through the tone of your voice, facial expressions, and body language. It can also calm you down if you begin to feel anxious. Feel excited about the opportunity at hand to meet professionals at each school. Feel proud of your accomplishments and thankful for the chance to share more about yourself. Remind yourself that the outcome of your interview does not define you as a person and that whatever comes your way is for your benefit. You have come a long way to now be in a turning point towards graduate studies. Be confident and be you, and the rest will fall right into place.

Image: Flickr

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

CultureLearnSkills

Being a leader is not easy. There are countless factors and people to consider at any given moment. Being a leader, however, is a life-changing and life-steering opportunity to positively influence other people. As a student leader, you have the privilege to impact peers, the community, and your campus every day. Having any sort of reach to influence others is a great responsibility and understanding the meaning behind it is essential for everyone. Leadership styles are all different, but here are four traits that every student leader need not forget:

1. FULLY PRESENT, FORWARD-LOOKING

Sharing a vision and fostering its growth with relationship-building and goal-setting.

Leaders are bifocal, always looking at both the process and outcome. They understand the details of working with people and how their opinions must be heard and considered before making further steps. They take time to get to know the people on their team to gain insight on their strengths and potential contributions. Think of a leader as a conductor of an orchestra. They oversee the pace of the music, paying attention to various sections of musicians while working towards an engaging and emotional performance. Conductors are able to think notes ahead, anticipating the turns of tone and guiding musicians to change tempo if need be. Similarly, student leaders are in rhythm with the interactions on their team and the overall project development. If something begins to sound off key, leaders are the first to respond with some fine-tuning, knowing the desired sound and sharing that vision with everyone else.

2. TRANSPARENCY

No hidden agendas. Consistent openness and a willingness to show your true self.

Gaining trust from a group of people can be difficult, keeping it can be harder. Student leaders accept this challenge by being transparent and conveying clear, direct, and honest information. Even more than that, they feel compelled to do so not in their own best interest but in the best interest of their organization. Especially when leading peers your age, it is essential to be seen as the real you. If there are conflicts among team members, rising concerns over new policies, or a personal dilemma, people will respond better if the news is shared in a sincere and straightforward way. By doing so, you are showing people respect for their time and their thoughts, allowing them to know about a situation and to make up their own minds. Being transparent tells people that your concern for the group is a priority and that you are willing to sacrifice self-importance and self-perception for honesty. True emotion and vulnerability do have a place in leadership and often times that’s what makes leaders even stronger.

3. FIRM STANCE, FLEXIBLE GRASP

Rooted in personal and organizational values while having the ability to accept change.

Just as important as having your own principles is the open-mindedness to value those that are different. People look to leaders to gauge situations or make the first move, and there are reasons why they have been chosen to do so. Anchored in ideals like social justice, collaboration, mentoring, or community involvement, leaders identify strongly with their core values and show people where their actions are coming from. The extension of this quality is being able to make choices when their values are tested. For this trait we can think of a leader as being their own solar system. They are centered in their world of values and cannot choose what goes into their orbit. Sometimes, collisions of ideas happen when they’re least expected. When this happens, leaders must accept the change, learn how to listen to conflicting opinions, and gather the information needed to make an unbiased decision. They may be unwavering in their central ideals but are always ready to listen to the input of others and apply new knowledge.

4. LOVE AND LIGHT

Creating a loving and supportive atmosphere by empowering others to rise to their best selves.

Forbes contributor Meghan M. Biro describes this quality as “something that transcends the every day ordinary and the practical, they engage you on an emotional level.” As described in the Harvard Business Review, there are multiple studies to back this up, showing that “employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture reported higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork.” Student leaders are not just called upon to run meetings and make decisions. They are called to create a warm and inviting environment for their team members to feel secure and heard. Remember, those who feel encouraged to do their best are more likely to excel. A smile, a thank you note, a friendly follow-up, a motivational email, or a team retreat (that’s just for fun), can help boost morale. It’s about making spaces that are conducive to conversation, safe from judgment, and inspiring to be in. Student leaders have a lot to do, but it’s the way they do it that makes all the difference.

Image: Startup Stock

SkillsTravel

I am the type of person who likes to be prepared for every situation. That includes making sure that my car is prepared for every situation as well. There are a lot of helpful items that can be kept in a plastic bin in your trunk or the glove compartment just in case you need them. They can also be removed if you need the space. Mileage varies on which items you want to keep in your own car, but here are a few ideas:

1. Jumper Cables
Use these if your battery dies. A good Samaritan can help with the rest.

2. Tire Repair Tools
A tire gauge will let you know the pressure in your tires. Other tools include a jack, a tire iron, and a spare tire. Failing that, you can use a tire inflater or sealer that might get you to a gas station.

3. Duct Tape
It can fix all kinds of things.

4. Your Car Manual
I know that no one wants to read the manual but if you have a specific question you could find the answer in there.

5. Flashlight
You can use your phone for this. However, if you need a light for an extended period of time, you can drain your battery. Keep an actual flashlight around, just in case.

6. Road Flare
Safety first when it’s dark out or you need to grab people’s attention!

7. Small Fire Extinguisher
You may never need it but it could be life-saving if you do.

8. Your Insurance and Vehicle Information

9. Bluetooth Device
Handsfree phone calls are the safest way to go.

10. Phone Charger
You never know when you might need it.

11. Cleaning Products
I would recommend plastic bags, tissues and/or paper towels for any kind of mess that you encounter. If you’re really into cleaning, you can include a hand-held vacuum or an air freshener.

12. Non-Perishable Food
I recommend a bottle of water and a food item that doesn’t need to be heated or prepared like jerky or granola bar. You can keep this in a collapsible cooler if you’re on a road-trip. This will come in handy if you’re stuck somewhere.

13. Anything that can protect you and your car from the elements
A spare umbrella or jacket will help when you are outside of the car. I would also recommend a towel or a change of clothes to avoid ruining the interior of your car in different kinds of weather.

14. Blanket
A blanket can cost around $5 and will be helpful if someone in your passenger seat wants to take a nap or if you need to get warm.

15. Extra Money
You may have money in your wallet at all times. If not, keep some spare change or a small amount of money in your car. You might need money if you run into an unexpected tollbooth or you need to tip a tow truck driver.

16. Small First Aid Kit
You can go to the hospital for the big stuff. This is just for small injuries and won’t take up much room.

17. Sunglasses
These will protect your eyes and help you drive better.

In the end, what you keep in your car is your business. It comes down to what suits your needs. For example, if your share a car maybe you don’t have a say about what goes in. Let this be a starting point for you to drive more safely. It can also be a great list to prepare for the road trip of your dreams! Happy driving!

Image: Pexels