Archive by Author

Work Smarter, Not Harder

15 Jan

super_strength-512Spending Time on Strengths

Everyone is their own worst critic and we often have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. While we challenge those expectations in college, it’s important to keep it real and use our time in school wisely.

It’s hard for us to see a weakness in ourselves and accept it as is. This makes it very tempting to work harder on our room for improvement instead of maximizing our strengths.

To work smarter, not harder in college, we have to identify our strengths and focus our energy on developing them even further. Weaknesses will fill in and follow suit over time while you evolve as an individual.

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Finding your Strengths

We all want to succeed, that’s why we came to the U of A. We hear a lot about “following our passions” and “doing what we’re best at”, but how do we discover these things? How do we know when our passion has been ignited, or when we’ve found our niche?

It sounds like we should just stumble upon these hidden strengths and know them when we see them, but it’s not always so easy to pinpoint. One way of finding out about this is by looking at a challenge and your skills to meet it.

When a challenge presents itself, our response to that challenge tells us about our skills in that area. For me, just a few minutes of algebra problems are enough to remind me that math is a weakness of mine. On the other hand, ask me to draw you a picture and I’ll handle the task with a smile on my face. You might be a person who is very comfortable with math, but stressed out by creative demands. Stress is just an indicator of how we evaluate a challenge, and how we think our resources can meet it.

When it comes to school we can identify areas of strength and weakness in ourselves by monitoring the challenge level and the skill level we experience from different subjects.

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Getting in the “Flow”

According to the “Flow” model presented by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the ideal scenario is a high level of challenge met with a high skill level. According to this model, a person can perform at their best and achieve their highest under these conditions while experiencing fulfillment from the task. He adds that you must have clear goals, visible progress, frequent feedback, and confidence in your abilities.

Keeping track of your grades can help with setting clear goals and watching visible progress. Visit office hours for frequent feedback, and keep up the hard work for more confidence in your abilities!

-Amanda

 

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Motivation in 10 Haiku Poems

15 Jan

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Be a powerhouse

Take it one step at a time

You know you’ve got this

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Time to step over

The things you used to trip on

Gain your confidence!

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Sleep 8 hours each night,

Eat balanced breakfasts each day,

Stay fit, win at school.

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Failed my math class twice

Changed my major to fine arts

Straight A’s ever since!

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Strength is knowing that

You’re tougher than your homework

and much more hardcore.

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Follow your own dreams

Let nothing get in your way

Blast through obstacles

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Doctor or lawyer?

Or marine biologist?

What am I best at?

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Mom wants me in law

Dad wants me in business school

I prefer science.

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Mind-numbing classes?

It’s only the beginning

prepare to bear down!

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College is so great

It’s hard and it will change you

Find yourself through it

 

Start Strong this Spring!

31 Dec

Going back to school isn’t easy after a long winter of sleeping in, movie marathons, and enjoying the cool weather, but now it’s time to start the ball rolling on a bright new semester. With a little push at the end of your break, you can make the transition easier.

Here are a list of tips to help you get back to Bear Down mode!

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Start a Sleep Schedule

Instead of cracking the whip over your head with an alarm clock on the first day of class, give your body a break and prepare it for the new schedule you’ll be operating on once school starts. By setting your alarm a little earlier each day, you can work your way up to that 8am wake-up you’ve been snoozing through this winter.

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Pre-Spring Cleaning

Set up your study space before you need to use it and you’ll have less in your way when it comes time to cracking open those new textbooks. Getting the extra clutter out will help you clear your mind and get back to that razor sharp focus school requires.

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Do a Campus Walk with your Schedule

Nobody likes to walk into the wrong classroom on the first day of class. Try taking your class schedule on a campus walk before school starts to eliminate the kinks when it comes to finding your new classes.

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Review for the New

If you’re taking classes in new subjects, try doing a little research to get ahead. Buy a phrasebook before your first class in a second language, or review your notes if you’ve studied the topic before. Not only will your professor know you’re super smart, but you’ll be the best study buddy in your class.

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Start Making Meals in Advance

Start preparing lunches for the week now and you’ll have a healthy habit by the time school starts. Not only will this save money, but it will save you from a diet of fast food and vending machine snacks. Sometimes picking a day on the weekend to prepare meals for the week is the best way to streamline your schedule.

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Get Your Supplies Early

Getting those school supplies lined up before the semester starts will ensure your preparedness. If you’re like me, this will also kick start your enthusiasm with shiny new pens and notebooks you just can’t wait to use.

This also goes for your wardrobe! Instead of buying random items and trying to mix and match, lay out some outfits and see what you need to up your game fashionably.

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Start making a list of your expenses and create a budget for yourself. This will help you when financial aid comes in and begins burning a hole in your pocket. It’s better to plan wisely and stick to your limits than to end up starving during finals! If your funding looks a little weak, then you’ll know in advance if you need a student job or a loan from a family member.

Try out a few of these ideas and Bear Down for Spring!

Happy 2017!

-Amanda

 

Crafty Winter Crafts

18 Dec

Frugal and festive gifts are an important part of any student’s holiday season. Whether you’re feeling crafty and want to deck your halls with something homemade, or you just need that extra touch to stuff a stocking, these crafts are for you!

Arm Knitted Infinity Scarf 

If you knit, this will be a cinch! If not, clear your mind and watch the video in small steps. Once you have the rhythm down you can crank out a chic little infinity scarf in under an hour.

Materials:

Two balls of thick yarn

Your arms

Paper penguins

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These little penguins will make anyone smile. You can hang them in your window, march them across your dashboard or tape them to a gift. They’re easy to make and can be assembled in less than 10 minutes.

Materials:

Empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls

Black, white and orange paint

Glue

Click here for Instructions

Nutcracker friends

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Who doesn’t love a personalized gift? Try making one yourself by redressing a funky nutcracker as one of your friends! Put some construction paper hair on it, paint on some glasses, a mustache or whatever fine features your friends possess and watch the transformation. It will make a unique addition to anyone’s winter décor.

Materials:

A wooden nutcracker

Acrylic paint

Construction paper

Anything else you can think of

Mason Jar Snow Globe

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Yay! Snow globes! With a hipster touch. Make a glittering globe of awesomeness for your friends and family with a mason jar and whatever figurines your heart desires. You can make a snowy desert landscape, a confetti-filled graduation scene or a classic snowman in three easy steps.

Materials:

Mason jar

Figurines

Mod podge liquid sealer

Crazy glue

Glitter

Distilled water

Vegetable glycerin – found online or at the Food Co-op

Click here for instructions

Personalizing your gifts will give your loved ones something that touches their hearts. Make something uniquely you, enjoy your holiday and soak up the love this season!

-ASA Peer Mentors

#NovembertoRemember: Birds of a Feather Make Art Together

22 Nov

 

Picture a cozy café with a table by the window, your favorite tunes pouring from Pandora’s finest playlist, and your best friend beside you. Time stops for a pair of ASA mentors as they take the day to paint together. The ink flows like the conversation, slightly out of control, entirely enchanting.

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We began with blank minds, blank pages and cappuccinos de chocolat blanc. Ink bottles, brushes and fountain pens littered the table as we began our work. We drew from our hearts, no plan, no reservations, just friendship and poetry of motion.

Taking time out of our busy week to make an art oasis out of an ordinary café was beyond rewarding. Sometimes the most valuable thing you can do with your time is to take a moment for yourself, an unstructured break that reminds you how important it is to play. All work and no play makes us dull students who won’t stand out in the crowd. Without moments like these, the days blur together in monotony, we forget who we are and where we’re going in this academic ocean of chaos. Take a moment, an hour, or even a whole day to make a memory this November and let it reward you like it rewarded us.

-Courtney & Amanda

My Registration Nightmare

13 Nov

It was 5:45 AM as I turned off my alarm clock and greeted registration day with bleary eyes. I had been waking up at 4 AM to do my homework all semester, but this particular day, I had a case of the dreaded Mondays. My laptop had died at my bedside during the night, my roommate had taken the last Frappuccino and my favorite sweater was nowhere to be found. Things weren’t going my way, but I accepted my fate, plugged in my laptop and logged on to UAccess.

The wifi was crawling along like molasses, leaving me with nothing to see but a bright white page that made my eyes water. Refreshing the page, I looked over the handwritten list of classes my advisor had given me, my academic security blanket. The classes had been in my shopping cart for weeks, but my advisor warned me to be prepared for anything.

Sure enough, my student center looked like text-salad nightmare and the wifi crashed completely. By the time I logged in again 20 minutes later, a disheveled heap of stress at the café, all of my classes were full. Admittedly, I freaked right out.

If you find yourself in these shoes, it may seem like your academic sky is falling, but don’t panic! Make the schedule you can make with the course options you have left and talk to your academic advisor about it. There are still a few ways to get you on track and into the schedule you hoped for:

1. Get on the wait list, when available

Two of my classes gave me the option of being put on the waiting list. This may seem like a bleak land of limbo, but it’s not. So many students change, swap and drop their classes before registration ends. With the wait list, you’re already in line to take those spaces as they open.

2. Check on the class religiously

If there’s no wait list, keep checking on the class and accomplish the same thing manually. Keep your fingers crossed for the green circle to take the place of the angry blue square next to your class in the class search. As long as registration is still open, there’s still hope for an open seat.

3. Beg your way in

Showing up to your desired class on the first day with a Change of Schedule form is not a bad idea. Some classes are more rigorous than others about attendance, so you may even get lucky on your first day. In one class I wanted, anyone who didn’t show up for the first day was dropped from the roster so the wait-listed students could take their places.

4. Talk to your academic advisor

At the U of A, your advisors are the music makers and dreamers of dreams. They know what’s possible and they can help you see the glimmer of hope in any academic disaster. Ask them for ideas if you get stuck. They’ve seen degrees completed in the most unconventional of ways and can always help you navigate your obstacles to gain that academic success you so deserve.

My registration nightmare ended with a less-than-perfect schedule, but it resulted in the best set of classes I could have hoped for. It threw me off my 4-year plan a little bit, but overall, I still got all of my requirements knocked out without any extra semesters added onto my academic career.

If you find yourself in this position, keep calm, bear down and hang in there! That which doesn’t bend can break under pressure, so take it as an exercise in adaptability, jump the hurdles that are thrown at you and keep on keepin’ on. The commitment you’ve made to your education is a commitment to yourself, and that makes it worth the struggle. Use the resources all around you and don’t be discouraged. You may be forced to take a gen ed at an awkward time, it might shift a prerequisite over to a different semester, but overall, you’ve got this!

-Amanda

 

The Gen Ed that Won Our Hearts

13 Nov

It was 5:45 AM as I turned off my alarm clock and greeted registration day with bleary eyes. I had been waking up at 4 AM to do my homework all semester, but this particular day, I had a case of the dreaded Mondays. My laptop had died at my bedside during the night, my roommate had taken the last Frappuccino and my favorite sweater was nowhere to be found. Things weren’t going my way, but I accepted my fate, plugged in my laptop and logged on to UAccess.

The wifi was crawling along like molasses, leaving me with nothing to see but a bright white page that made my eyes water. Refreshing the page, I looked over the handwritten list of classes my advisor had given me, my academic security blanket. The classes had been in my shopping cart for weeks, but my advisor warned me to be prepared for anything.

Sure enough, my student center looked like text-salad nightmare and the wifi crashed completely. By the time I logged in again 20 minutes later, a disheveled heap of stress at the café, all of my classes were full. Admittedly, I freaked right out.

If you find yourself in these shoes, it may seem like your academic sky is falling, but don’t panic! Make the schedule you can make with the course options you have left and talk to your academic advisor about it. There are still a few ways to get you on track and into the schedule you hoped for:

1. Get on the wait list, when available

Two of my classes gave me the option of being put on the waiting list. This may seem like a bleak land of limbo, but it’s not. So many students change, swap and drop their classes before registration ends. With the wait list, you’re already in line to take those spaces as they open.

2. Check on the class religiously

If there’s no wait list, keep checking on the class and accomplish the same thing manually. Keep your fingers crossed for the green circle to take the place of the angry blue square next to your class in the class search. As long as registration is still open, there’s still hope for an open seat.

3. Beg your way in

Showing up to your desired class on the first day with a Change of Schedule form is not a bad idea. Some classes are more rigorous than others about attendance, so you may even get lucky on your first day. In one class I wanted, anyone who didn’t show up for the first day was dropped from the roster so the wait-listed students could take their places.

4. Talk to your academic advisor

At the U of A, your advisors are the music makers and dreamers of dreams. They know what’s possible and they can help you see the glimmer of hope in any academic disaster. Ask them for ideas if you get stuck. They’ve seen degrees completed in the most unconventional of ways and can always help you navigate your obstacles to gain that academic success you so deserve.

My registration nightmare ended with a less-than-perfect schedule, but it resulted in the best set of classes I could have hoped for. It threw me off my 4-year plan a little bit, but overall, I still got all of my requirements knocked out without any extra semesters added onto my academic career.

If you find yourself in this position, keep calm, bear down and hang in there! That which doesn’t bend can break under pressure, so take it as an exercise in adaptability, jump the hurdles that are thrown at you and keep on keepin’ on. The commitment you’ve made to your education is a commitment to yourself, and that makes it worth the struggle. Use the resources all around you and don’t be discouraged. You may be forced to take a gen ed at an awkward time, it might shift a prerequisite over to a different semester, but overall, you’ve got this!

-Amanda

 

#OutrageousOctober: Start Your Art

30 Oct

Sometimes the fall semester feels like a steep uphill climb with boulders tumbling down your trail every five minutes. A times like those, one bad exam grade, a ridiculous person on TV, or even an unexpected mud puddle soaking your shoes can feel like the end of the world. Sometimes we have to put on a fresh pair of socks and step outside our comfort zone.

This Outrageous October, a friend and I challenged ourselves to take art into our own hands.

It started a few months ago when I saw a Facebook post from a friend who lives in San Diego. She said that she was getting worn out from all the homework with no time to play. She wanted to get in touch with her creativity again, but she wasn’t sure how. I felt her pain and was moved by her words. This post gave me the courage to ask if I could be her creativity coach.

The art classes I’ve taken have enhanced my life so much. I’ve always wanted to show my friends the things I’ve learned so they can enjoy it too, but I’ve never put the time in until now. This felt like an outrageous step forward because no one had given me the authority to take on such a role. I didn’t have any certificates or qualifications to give me permission, only the authenticity of my friendship and the contents of my art portfolio.

I undertook my own professional development on something that has been stewing in my mind throughout my academic career. This was the beginning of my transformation from a senior in Psychology to an applicant for an Art Therapy graduate program.

Within a month I received a beautiful response from my friend. She had completed the exercises I had written for her and produced a series of daring drawings and paintings. The letter she wrote in response was a glowing one. She had pulled herself out of a slump and into her studio with just an email to motivate her. We were proud of ourselves, proud of each other, and both on our way to a new version of ourselves.

Accessing Your Creativity

Art can be scary. We avoid it easily by saying “I’m not creative” and leaving it at that. But art is all around us, it’s a part of all of us and it belongs to you. Every culture on the planet makes some kind of art, even if it’s just making a boat look a little bit fancy, or decorating cattle. You can make your notes look fancy, you can decorate your dorm room, or sit at a picnic and make a pile of pebbles on the table. That’s where art starts.

I realized that anyone can begin their own journey to the studio of their hearts, but that we have to make time and space for it to exist. This can be hard even for experienced artists and nearly impossible for those with no experience and multiple roles to play in their lives. At first it feels like one of those dreams where you’re naked in public, but over time, it clothes you in shining armor that reflects who you are. Here are three easy steps you can use to get your own art started.

Step 1: Make Time and Space

Making an art station is an important part of practice. This can be as simple as clearing off part of your desk for a sketchbook and some pencils. All you need is an available surface where you can program yourself to get into a creative mode just by sitting down. After spending just 5 minutes here every day, you can expand your artistic comfort zone.

Step 2: Dive in

The hardest part is getting started. These three exercises are designed to silence the little perfectionist in the back of our brains and loosen up your artistic muscles. Try one on for size during a 5-minute session and see where it takes you.

The Squiggle Game

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Make a squiggle. Turn that squiggle into a face or creature. Repeat. You can even fill up an entire page with squiggles first before finding your funky faces.

Stick portraits

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Think of a friend, a family member, a crush or a celebrity and draw a stick figure portrait of them. You can even do a daily stick figure diary that chronicles your moods and life events.

Spatter Analysis

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Take a blank page and some ink or paint. Throw the ink or paint on the page using a paintbrush or just dump it directly from the container. Find interesting shapes and make them into something new. You can decorate them, make them into a surreal landscape or just keep adding paint until you feel like you’ve made a fun mess.

Step 3: Share

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The next step is to wear your art on your sleeves. It can be terrifying to put yourself out there since we live in an internet full of trolls. Anyone can be a critic, but it takes real courage to be a creator. Even the most random doodle can serve as an inspiration to those around you. Try putting yourself out there on Tumblr or Facebook. Even just sharing with a friend can help build confidence and make inspiration contagious.

 

An Oasis in 5 Minutes

29 Sep

Sometimes we just need a little break from reality to get our footing again. I invite you to take that break right now. Soak up some peace from these wise poets and let your eyes relax with some gorgeous scenery. You deserve it!

“The world is quiet here.”

― Lemony Snicket

Peace is Every Step

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace is every step.

The shining red sun is my heart.

Each flower smiles with me.

How green, how fresh all that grows.

How cool the wind blows.

Peace is every step.

It turns the endless path to joy.

May you be at peace.
May your heart remain open.
May you awaken to the light of your own true nature.
May you be healed.
May you be a source of healing to all beings.
—THE METTA OF THE BUDDHA

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

-Emily Dickinson

 

 

Allow Yourself

by Catherine Pulsifer

Allow yourself to dream,

And when you do dream big

Allow yourself to learn

And when you do learn all you can

Allow yourself to laugh

And when you do share your laughter

Allow yourself to set goals

And when you do reward yourself as you move forward

Allow yourself to be determined

And when you do you will find you will succeed

Allow yourself to believe in yourself

And when you do you will find self confidence

Allow yourself to lend a helping hand

And when you do a hand will help you.

Allow yourself relaxation

And when you do you will find new ideas.

Allow yourself love

And when you do you will find love in return

Allow yourself to be happy

And when you do you will influence others around you.

Allow yourself to be positive

And when you do life will get easier.

 

 

 

#StudiousSeptember: Satisfying Study Sessions

19 Sep

Now that the semester is underway and the homework is rolling in, it’s time to study! While we usually meet this challenge without much enthusiasm, it is possible to make it an event to look forward to.

Spoil Thyself!

Have a well-deserved treat when you put your study time in! Small rewards like this will give you a little boost in your day.

Having a little caffeine can help your brain along. Try curling up in a café to do your assigned readings in caffeinated comfort. Even taking yourself out for a long lunch can make a thankless homework task into the highlight of your day.

Make Peace, Not Grief

Find a spot that evokes a sense of peace so you can study longer without struggling to sit still. The summer is almost over and the lawns are cool and green. There are tons of hidden benches and shady trees to give you a seat with sitting in, they’re the perfect places to have a meditative study session.

Having a regular study space set up at home can really help. Once you’ve established a spot that puts you in study mode, your brain will automatically know what you’re up to when you sit down. Since the hardest part is getting started, this will make things much easier in the long run.

If you find yourself getting distracted, try putting your headphones on and listening to some music. This is almost like putting the blinders on a horse so that he focuses on the road ahead.

That being said, limit your access to text messages, Netflix, and social media while you work. Maybe make a post letting your friends know that you’re getting ready to bear down for an hour or two. They’ll totally understand.

Organize to Limit Suffering

Have you ever looked at all of your papers, folders, books and handouts in a pile and felt like your head was going to explode? Getting overwhelmed is a good thing to avoid and a simple problem to solve.

If you know what’s on your syllabus, you can break things into steps and prioritize. Is it more important to study for a quiz that’s worth 15% or and exam that’s worth 40%? Making lists, writing your syllabus dates and deadlines on a calendar, or using the library’s assignment scheduler can help you. Not only will you know what to do with your study session, but you’ll be able to look ahead. Check out Think Tank’s “Semester on a Page” for a cool organizational tool.

Once you have your to-do list made, it’s time to knock it out. If you’re taking your studies out for a night on the town, be sure to pack your chargers, writing utensils, scratch paper and all of your materials for the classes you’re working on. The last thing you want to do is to get settled in only to find that you’ve brought the wrong book.

If you know you’ll be struggling with the material from a class as you study it, go where the help is! Getting stuck or stumped can be an important part of the learning process, but you want to connect to the resources around you before you get frustrated. Study near your professor’s office during their office hours, bring your work to Think Tank, or make a study group to give yourself a support network.

By spoiling yourself, seeking out your study oasis and breaking big tasks into small steps, you’ll set yourself up for success this semester.

Keep calm and study happily!

-Amanda