// forcing habit

It’s been a week!

I guess I can write this now!

So. In my earlier post about saying no to things so you can say yes later and whatnot I referenced a few things I was doing to kind of get myself back on track and pave a smooth way for the semester.

And I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot during that process.

So! A recap!

This week, I:

Said “no” to coffee, and “yes” to water and tea.*
I woke up with a cup/glass/or water bottle every morning this week, because I want to embrace the positive effects a hefty dose of water can have on your metabolism in the mornings.

Some observations, though:

  • It kinda threw off my body’s schedule LOL
  • I’ve noticed a small difference in my ability to focus and in the quality of my skin. [I had headshots taken yesterday so this has been a mild blessing!]
  • It has made me aware how little I drink water now. Because I start my day with it, and because it seems to be a memorable part of my mornings now, I think about it more. And I also seem to have a subconscious thought of “oh, welp! That’s your water for the day!” So I’m hoping to override that.
  • I did break my non-coffee regimen 2 times this week though [1.5 if you wanna get technical about chai tea lattes]. I will say though! These “breaks” were backed with purpose–
    • one “coffee” event was spent getting through a difficult, yet rewarding as hell conversation
    • the other was a purposeful consumption of an espresso iced coffee to power through a video editing session. I totally got in my “flow” state and absolutely reached hyperfocus as a result.
    • [EDIT: annnnnnd whoops technically I guess I also had a break today I totally forgot about–I ordered a Matcha latte at work today because I’d never had one before and I wanted to see if I’d like it. Does that count? LOL]
  • I guess the biggest thing for me with regards to the coffee is that I wanted to consume it more mindfully, and more purposefully, rather than just having it be my “given” for the day. And on that front, I think I succeeded. [:

I said “no” to notifications, and “yes” to waking up more mindfully.
I don’t think I really realized how much my mind raced in the morning until the end of last semester. Over winter break there wasn’t quite as many commitments, so I was able to wake up with notifications and skip the mind racing, *but* I was then able to fall into the trap of endlessmindlessscrolling (I didn’t have a class to race off to, so of course I was able to just sit and absorb. At least, I told myself I could). So. By keeping airplane on all night, I knew for a fact that nothing would be able to get through.

Some notes though:

  • I did violate my rule once this week because we were expected to get a ton of snow, and, let’s be real, I didn’t want to miss the university closure texts.
  • This habit MAJORLY helped in that it gave me a clear mind for the morning to breeze through my other tasks, such as drinking water, making myself a smol breakfast, and getting ready for the day [I should time myself on all those things, actually, just to see how long they *actually* take and now how exacerbated they are when interrupted with screen time! :D]
  • It also just gave me a nice…buffer? I guess? A little extra time between being asleep and immediately “on” and awake.
  • I’m able to more accurately process my mornings!! I am here, writing this post because I *remember* my mornings– not just as a rushed blur of mundane, but as a little more *mindful*! That’s exciting!

Said “no” to “checking in” and working right away, yes to observing my breathing and bringing back my wandering thoughts.
I was probably worried the most about this one.  Mediation, I knew going into this, was going to be the one I was most averse to for this week. I didn’t do that well in terms of setting aside a solid 5 minutes to watch my breathing. Rather, I made some observations:

  • I traded sitting cross-legged on my floor or on my bed for walks to work without headphones.
  • I declined music in the shower, opting instead for a 5 min timer and just embraced the fact that my mind was going to wander and made an effort to enjoy it.
  • I did a few brain dumps. On paper. For me, this is highly meditative for some reason.  I started with a blank sheet of paper and by the end of 10 mins or so, I had built a complete list of thoughts and notes and “to-do”s and by the end my head just felt SO MUCH BETTER. Chris Bailey quotes a lot, “your brain is for having thoughts, not holding thoughts.” That’s what the meditative brain-dumps are for [;

There were a few other things I did pretty consistently this week that I hadn’t intentionally set out to do,  though, and they surprised me!

I made my bed every morning.
Anyone who has seen my room knows I’m pretty scattered. But I’m actually super proud of the way I’ve been able to keep it tidy over the past week. Among my morning hustle, I try to make my bed look made just so I have a good thing to come home to. But also because it’s hard to lay out clothes and spread out what I need for the day on a mangled up tangled ball of blankets :B

I made myself breakfast every morning. 
The routine as of late? Oatmeal + egg and cheese. I whip up the oatmeal [it’s instant, we’re getting there LOL], and then make an egg with shredded cheddar to get that protein in. I cannot TELL you how many times I went last semester [especially towards the end there!] without eating a single thing in the morning. [Well, I did have a single thing– and it was coffee. #yikes] If I was running late, I opted for something more portable [I think that only happened once this week] like a granola bar of piece of fruit. Otherwise, I carved out time for breakfast. And, on super late nights like last night, I did the prep work in the evening so I could be prepared and get the extra sleep in the morning. [I know it all probably works out to be even– the time I spent prepping was taking away from my sleep time, but in my head this makes sense and it *feels* like I get to sleep more, LOL].

I did all of the above with the help of a “Gmorning” checklist! 
I love lists. I don’t know where I would be without them. What started as a way for me not to lose track of all I had to do in the morning turned into a daily event. I would take a piece of paper, write out my tasks for the morning, and write something encouraging on the top of it. The cherry on top? Leaving Lin Manuel Miranda’s book, “Gmorning, Gnight!” right on top of the list so I could flip it open to a random page to be inspired. I think positive self-talk, especially early in the morning, is super underrated. I’m not quite to the point of confessing love for myself in the mirror yet LOL, but I am finding that reading just a blurb of something positive each morning has a really nice effect on the day.

The crazy thing? There were points this week where I felt myself pushing back on all of this. Where I wondered, what’s the point?  Heck, today I saw someone reference today as “Ditch All Your New Year’s Resolutions Day,” as if we’re supposed to just up and lose motivation on the 15th of the first month of the year.

But the funny thing about routines and habits– you come to expect them. You come to think about them during the rest of the day, and even look forward to them. So much so that when you feel like you’re starting to veer off the tracks, you seek solace in them again. And it’s like come on we just spent so much time getting this together. Why stop now?

…And when you see that they’re starting to work, starting to pull you up and help you rise, you’re inclined to give them another chance every time the sun rises. [:

What about you guys? What 2019 energies are you keeping up with?

xx

 

we can be good at math

Between being sick, and trying to figure stuff out for how to re-align my life for this semester, I managed to wake up late this morning…..BUT! I made it 1 minute before my first class started at 8am!! #yay

This class…is a math class.

#notyay #butYESYAYbecause #override #anythingispossible! #readmoretoseewhy

I am in my 3rd year here at university and have avoided it for this long [LOL how]. But like 2019 is turning out to show and teach me every day– there’s just no hiding anymore! ((-:

The last math classes I took was in high school. It was AP AB Calculus in my junior year, and AP Stats senior year. With regards to the Calc, I was in that class because it was the only thing left I could take without stepping down the ladder in terms of math difficulty, and because I was pressured into it by myself (“why not take another AP to impress colleges hmm??” ) and friends (“why not take another AP to impress colleges but also lowkey upholdyour intellectual status at this school and unrealistically inflate your GPA like the rest of us  hmm??”)… and parents (“why not take another AP to impress colleges hmm??”).

Needless to say, I did not want to be there.

This negative outlook stemmed, I think, from a lot of different things, and I really only started to understand it last semester.

This particular bout of introspection came when we were discussing epistemological beliefs within my practicum as I was training to become a digital learning center tutor.

It’s a big complicated phrase [and I may or may not still have trouble getting it out of my mouth without tripping on it somehow LOL] that basically talks about how we as humans conceptualize our own knowledge, and how we think about learning and its processes.

Do we think that learning is about facts and knowing? Do we believe that learning is a continuum that constantly evolves with time and experience? Do we believe that we can learn differently? Are we stagnant in our learning? Are we certain that things can only be a certain way, and that we can’t learn any differently?

In my case, I always told myself I was bad at math. Not gonna lie, I did this because I wanted to assimilate myself with my mother growing up, who had always said she was bad at math.

I have absolutely no issue [in fact, it’s *so* encouraged!] to make mental notes and observations about what you’re good and not so good at.

But I was telling myself I was bad at math like it was some genetic issue, not because I had legitimately tried time after time and fallen on my face repeatedly during my math courses. I mean, there’s no doubt I fell on my face in a variety of math classes, but I also had to step back and look at this in itself: “falling on my face” meant getting slightly lower grades than my peers.

At no point was I ever legitimately “failing” math. I think the worst grade I ever took home was in the high D/ C range. But no matter what grade I received, there was always a tiny voice that seemed to just ramble on without any real precedence, “I’m just not good at math”.

In the practicum it hit me. My learning, especially as of late, thank the Lord above, has been anything but stagnant. It’s been anything but “you’re just not good at X”. Hell, these past few years? I’ve been telling myself “how do we make X happen?” and then I just…do it. [A lot of this refers to procrastination issues but LOL that’s a tale for another time.]

Putting limits on the way you learn is such a sad thing to even think into existence. There’s almost *always* more than one way to do something, and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised when I walked into my 8am math class today.

Not only was the professor so nice, so spritely, and passionate about the subject matter… she made it very clear to us that she loves teaching, that she’s an adjunct, that she gets a personal thrill every morning at 8am to be here in her ripe age of 65. Add in the fact that she’s very blunt and candid and brash with a southern twang?!?

LOL.

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed math more. She reminds me of my mother and my father’s mother all rolled into one and LOL it’s a fantastic combination.

But as I was sitting there, I was reviewing concepts that had fallen by the wayside, that had gotten rusty, that were a bit fuzzy on the edges. But I did the stepping back and was honest with myself. It’s been what, 3 years? LOL. Time to read up!

And it wasn’t bad at all! Stepping back to look at everything objectively, with confidence in myself [and a bit of hyperfocus**], I was able to think about how this was totally doable, and totally in my reach.

Malcom Gladwell has made the statement that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be good at something. Who says that something can’t be totally new? Or totally foreign? Or something you thought you were terrible at, but now have the courage to revisit?

**I refer to [surprisesurprise] Chris Bailey here. Another reason I think I did so “poorly” in math in middle and high school was because I was *not* in control of my attention at all. Phones and other tech at that age had… a bigger impact on my ability to focus and do well than I ever thought at the time, and so being able to see how to reign in my focus for things that are important to me, for things I want to succeed in, has been *such* a help.

What are *your* epistemological beliefs?

Better yet…How can you flip them upside down?

Onwards!
xx

Right Back At it Again.

^Wow, I never make Day To Remember references… until now, haha.

It feels like I’m just now settling into summer… even though it’s basically gone…

If you recall my last post, I was going off to a German hibernation of sorts, hidden from the outside world.  My earlier hypothesis? It would be “either fantastic or really rough”.

I’m happy to say it was the latter. Times 100.

Being thrown completely into a non-English environment was cooler than cool, even if it was a bit scary at first. I’ll admit, the first week was hard. And I was easily intimidated by all of the fluent or nearly-native speakers.  But it faded after the first week– I was learning so much. The whole experience made me wish my classroom environment were that awesome….awesome in that we had an enthusiastic group of students who found it cool to speak the language and actually wanted to put effort into creating as close to a full immersion environment as possible…

But it was amazing.  I grew close with so many people (what else do you do when you’re around them for 3 weeks? lol) including one of our RA’s– Maria. She’s super into theatre (it’s part of her major), really cute, (short, like me!), has a great sense of humor, AND she does trapeze for fun/exercise. PLUS her German is flawless (she studied abroad in Heidelberg and I am so jealous). I learned so much from her, and what amount of wanderlust I didn’t already have, came from her.  I can’t tell you how much I want to go to Germany (or just Europe in general) now. Annnnnnnd those opportunities may come– my aunt has said words about visiting her brother, and a friend proposed her visiting there and her need for a translator….. :O So we shall see.

I really can’t fit all of my experiences into a single post, so I’ll just say that we lived, laughed, ate, learned, had drama, all in German. I even started to dream in German, which was totally weird but also very fascinating. The day my parents came to rescue pick me up, I could not English. It was a struggle. And hearing the English of my instructors and RA’s for the first time was…. earth-shatteringly weird. Oh, and did I mention I learned Chinese? Only a bit, mind you. Since English

So just because I can, here are some pictures in an attempt to somehow show you guys how epic gov school was.

People + me in a Luray Caverns– the tour was in German! (left to right: Sandra, peep Dylan, Alexa, Marley, Katie & Me in front)

 

Me in cave + RAs Mariah and Meredith (left to right.

 

ME AND LU LAOSHI our Chinese teacher– he was so sweet, so patient…so amazing.
(Lu Laoshi ist Lieben, Lu Laoshi ist Leben)

 

A pic with a huge group of people before the last dance of the German Academy.

 

Our X-treme volleyball team. We were the “Faultier Frauen” (“sloth women”, because Allison’s fave animal was a sloth) later to be mixed with a group of guys… we compromised on the team name “Faultier Fenster” because they had named their team after the window two guys had broke playing soccer in the dorm halls…. XD

 

We’re fierce.

 

Wandern! (German for hiking, but it’s got an added spiritual element to it– it’s not just your average trekking through the woods experience.

 

Washington and Lee has some gorgeous forest and water around it 😀

 

…The mountains are gorgeous too…

 

All of the people in the academy after wandern 😀

 

Dunno why this is black and white, guess my camera was on that mode when the pic was taken, but this is the 4th of July at a street market on the campus of VMI (Virginia Military Institute).  You may not be able to tell but the building looks like a castle prison, and I’m standing with Matt, a good friend I made at the academy. We sang together and he is an insane guitar player.

 

Just me with an inflatable dinosaur.

 

Our attempt to make a star with our bodies on grass. (same day, July 4th)

 

Found a four-leafed clover that day too

 

An unconventional 4th of July dinner with the boys in the academy… Bratwurst inside hotdog buns and Kartoffelsalat.. but we managed to have iced tea! In this picture the boys are imitating Lu Laoshi… he taught us our favorite Chinese words “canting” and “chifan”, which mean “place to eat” and “eating”. We’re strange children.

 

Not far from the university, they had hot air balloons in the sky (this was also the 4th of July) and I pride myself of this artsy shot with the lamp post right in the middle LOL

 

The Wiener Cafe!! You could invite your German teacher to this traditional-style eating get-together in the W&L dining hall– traditional dress was encouraged, and I though all these guys looked amazing, so I snapped a pic 😀

 

….Steve’s shorts in honor of ‘MURICA day… (he was one of the guys who broke the window, btw)

 

I love this picture because Haley (the ginger cracking up on the left) is so amazing… Our last week of gov school we had a “Geheimnesfreund”, a secret person who we’d smuggle gifts or nice favors to anonymously, and at the end it was like a Secret Santa revealing, and you’d give your last present to the person so they’d know who you were, and Haley gave Calvin (the guy in the chair) a picture of a green penguin she drew herself. Just because she’s cool like that.

 

The guy in the yellow shirt and white pants was the bane of my existence.  RA named Lenny. He’s only 19 but he’s.. insane. He fooled all of us with a wig on the first day…

 

Internationales Abendessen! (International Dinner) with the other academies– French and Spanish 😀 The girl behind me spoke excellent French, as did the guy in the red shirt.  The guy in the black is named John, he was another German partner in crime. It was so cool– English was forbidden (like always)– we could speak only our languages…I know only a handful of words in French, the French people knew only a few German words… so we met in the middle and I talked in Spanish with a French girl who knew some Spanish (enough to get by). It was such an interesting experience trying to understand each other.

 

Left to right, our energetic RA’s… Makenna, Leah, Matt, Mariah, Meredith, Lenny.

 

Marley and Me with a mustache (LOL she hates it when people make that movie reference with her name, but I love her so it’s okay).

 

UNSERE DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL MANSCHAFT! (Our German soccer team!) The last week, we had a soccer tourney against the other academies… whoever won the most games was champion. The Spanish academy scored like, 7 goals… we scored 1 and the French scored none.  But the Spanish were cocky as hell so the French rooted for us when we played against the Spanish LOL

 

3 Wochen auf Deutsch

Three weeks in German. No English allowed. This will either be fantastic or really rough.
A couple months ago I applied to the Governor’s School program– you can pick an area of study that you are proficient/interested in and apply for it– I chose to study German for three weeks. Woo!
In order to make it as close to a full immersion experience as possible, they cut all participants off from civilization. Which is, a good and bad thing.  It’s a great thing, because you get to take advantage of the attempted immersion. AND you don’t have a bunch of social media obsessed kids on your hands for three weeks.  Instead, you have a bunch of half-insane/deprived kids writing letters home, lol.
Yes, we’re allowed to write letters. With paper. And pen. It’s been such a long time….
The bad part of it is that mail is slow.  And also I’m selfish and want to be able to talk to people (J!!) while I’m there.
Buuuuut I know that it’s for the better… And it’s cool and exciting and nerve wracking– I leave tomorrow at 7am to drive 3 hours to Washington and Lee University… and then I’m there.  For three weeks away from home. YAY It’ll be like college–living in a dorm and eating on campus and taking tours and kadlfj;daklsjf it’s gonna be awesome. You can tell I’m not pumped at all…
Speaking of college, I visited JMU for a generic tour this past Thursday.  It was fabulous.  I reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllly wanna go there.  One thing our tourguide pointed out at us was that there are little circles of stone on the sidewalks on campus. If you stand in the middle of it and clap your hands, in addition to your handclaps you hear a little squeaking noise.  It’s the weirdest thing and only the person in the center can hear it.  (<– these people aren’t crazy, it’s a real thing!)
Not a major reason why I wanna go there, but you know (;
Wish me luck– I’ll be MIA for 3 weeks or more so I’ll MISS YOU ALL and reading up on you guys ),:  If y’all have a list of basic German phrases that you feel like I shouldn’t live without, feel free to comment and/or send them to me!
Aufwiedersehen!
~Steph xoxo