Point Of View

Camp offers the time and space to stop and change your point of view. Your perspective. Removing yourself from everyday life and taking a break lets you stop and evaluate. We all get so caught up in the crazy schedules we create that we often forget to just stop and shift our point of view on a regular basis outside of this kind of setting.

My great-grandmother passed away this past spring. She would be 99 years old soon. I often wonder what it would be like to have her perspective. Being retired and just enjoying family, it probably allows for a lot of retrospective learning. My grandma lived such a long and joyful life, I imagine she looked back and had few regrets. She was surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who loved her dearly. Her big Irish family took care of her and always checked in. Unfortunately, my grandma’s mind was not what it used to be when she was near the end of her life, so I could never ask her about this. But wow, would 99 years of life be something great to look back on.

The thing is, we can’t all wait until the end of our lives to look back and learn. We have to remember that life isn’t about the craziness. Life is about people and moments. It’s about taking time to appreciate those things. Too often we forget this. Our society is one of busy bodies that need to constantly be doing something. We stuff our time outside of school/work with sports, clubs, concerts, gatherings and so much more. This past week I barely had time to breathe between all the appointments and study hours I had to fit in. That’s not okay.

I like to make it a goal of mine to take some time to stop and reflect. To stop and learn. And sometimes that is so very hard. We often don’t give ourselves enough time to sit in our own thoughts, uninterrupted. This is the space in which we learn the most about ourselves and life. This is where we grow.

We are all so focused on the next step, high school to college to a career to a family to retirement that I don’t think we know what to do when we make it through them all. We need to stop hurrying through life and enjoy the small time we have. God gave us people here to love and experiences to shape us, so we need to allow the love and growth.

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I am an introspective person. It’s part of being an introvert. I need that time for myself, but I am often so consumed by my busy schedule that it becomes what I think about in my quiet moments.

Here is my challenge (to myself and others): Take 10 minutes each day. Sit alone and in the silence. Think about the happy memories of the day. Think about the hard moments and what you can learn from them. Think about the people you are grateful for and what they’re doing in your life.

I think if more people took time to do this we would have a less stressed and more joyful world. We are often told to get our priorities straight, usually insinuating work or school. I think personal reflection and the people in our lives should be our priorities. So, get your priorities straight. Love yourself and others the way we were intended to do.

Mindfulness for the Season

September 12th was Mindfulness Day. How exciting that there’s a day for one of my favorite topics! I’ve mentioned before how important I’ve found this topic because of time spend working on it at camps. I haven’t talked about my healthy habits for this semester much yet. I want to let you know how I’m adjusting my mindfulness practices for a new school year and season of life.

I was beyond stressed last semester. I could barely function, so healthy habits were important to find time for in my life. I am far less stressed and busy this year (so far). It’s been easy to push healthy mental habits to the side because of that. Honestly, I use my free time to watch a lot of Private Practice. This definitely doesn’t help me stay organized and stay refreshed mentally and spiritually.

I have some things in the works that I’m working on making habits and not just sporadic behaviors. First, I’m getting back to my bullet journal. I quite using it during the summer because I was at camp and just didn’t have a lot to keep track of. Getting back to the daily planning and reflection has been hard since then. I’ve made my design a bit more simplistic and also gave my calendar more space in order to better chart my many activities.

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September in my journal before the onslaught of events being listed.

I am also working on setting times to dedicate to friends. Coffee dates, lunches, movie nights, etc. I am working on intentionally building relationships in order to make me better  and also be a better friend. People are important in life, so I want to make sure that shows in how I spend my time.

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Kayaking at Finger Lakes State Park.

Cleaning time is a new one. This sounds icky, and I’m not a big fan of cleaning. But, clean living space means clean head space. A cluttered room can often leave your mind cluttered. I am working really hard to keep my room organized and my desk empty of junk. I also do general cleaning more often. Organizing my room daily is making my space more enjoyable to be in and easier to do homework in.

This year I have room to have my cello with me at school. For me, making music has always been far more of a stress relief than listening to music. I think music is so important in life. I’m making more effort to use free time to release my emotions through my music. Even if you aren’t a musician, set aside time to find new music to listen to or time to go see some live music. Music is just plain good for the soul.

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Hillsong United’s Empires Tour in July.

One I’ve been really terrible about implementing is photography. I think it’s great to capture moments and memories with friends, yet my camera has sat dormant for a couple of weeks. I also really love editing photos, but that’s the journalism major side of me finding that relaxing. I need to collect more beautiful photos for my walls. Creating a room full of good memories can give you the right mindset to regularly go out and make new memories.

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Table Rock Lake from a July trip.

Mindfulness is defined by Google as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Or, “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” I like to view it as being in tune with your feelings and habits and focusing in on them to achieve a happier lifestyle. I don’t practice mindfulness meditation, which is a real thing, but rather try to be mindful of my thoughts and actions.

When you focus on positive living, you lead a more positive life. It helps you feel better, helps people around you feel better, and allows you to achieve more. The better you feel, the better you perform. Little habits can make for big differences.

So celebrate mindfulness with the rest of the world and make some positive changes in your life!

Using the Past to Find Your Path

I’ve talked about how important reflection is in my life. Daily reflection is an important aspect of my routine. I believe analyzing your day and what went well, or not so well, is a way to put it behind you and prepare for the next. This is a habit that I learned from years of camp.

However, there are certain times I believe it is important to go beyond daily reflection and think a little deeper. This is something I’ve figured out on my own after camp.

While at camp, I usually journal my daily reflections as well as my goals for what I want life to look like when I return home. Maybe some small moral changes, or a new habit to pick up, or a change in attitude or how I relate to a certain person. Nothing too big. Now, with any goal it is important to look back and see if you attained it. (See my goal setting post from a few months ago.)

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This is where distanced reflection is key. Was it just a “camp high?” Or did you actually make the effort to apply changes? Did they stick? What change have you seen from them? These questions are important to analyzing goals.

Currently, I am working through some of this from my month of camp in May/June. It’s been a few months and I’m back at school with a new routine.

Time to be transparent: I haven’t been super successful.

Taking a few months to look back at goals gives you the distance to analyze where things went wrong. Why didn’t this happen? What stood in my way? Did I even try?

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And here’s the best part. With this information you now have the ability to try again. Or, if you have been successful, you can make changes or add to the goal.

Reflecting can also show you where things you thought were awful actually set you on a path that was better in the long run. That’s impossible to see without some distance between the hard stuff and where you are now.

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I like to keep track of my goals in my bullet journal. (See my bullet journal post.) It allows a place for yearly goals, monthly goals, and daily/weekly goals. Whether they’re long-term or short-term, I am able to see what they were and how I’ve done. Keeping track is important.

My advice to you is to keep track of your goals. When I was told to do this in middle school I thought it was crazy. Now I live by it and have learned more about myself than I ever thought I would.

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I know what camp taught me, and I know where those lessons need to take me. And now I have a plan.

People Take You Places

One of the most important things I have learned is that camp doesn’t happen without other people. It’s not a solitary activity. All the fun, growth, reflection, and everything else cannot happen unless you have people doing it alongside you. Sure, you can do those things all by yourself. But, the camp setting proves that the results are magnified when you’re doing it with other people.

I believe that you learn best from other people. Something that someone else says or does often sparks a new thought inside of you. This is a cycle. That’s why student council camp was so effective for me. You can’t learn leadership qualities without people to lead you and without people to lead. At church camp, spiritual growth happens by learning from others’ stories and talking through life with them.

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I feel it is extremely important to keep this mindset year round. The past few weeks I have been extremely busy and often try to spend any free time I have taking some time for myself. I am a firm believer in personal time to keep your mind healthy. However, I realized once I got a free weekend that I was continuing to be stressed because I hadn’t been spending enough time with other people.

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My friends forced me to take some time off and go hiking and hammocking with them. They got my mind off of everything. We just sat in peace and talked about life. I always stress how great it is to foster relationships, but I sometimes forget to maintain those myself.

Without people I get caught up in my head. I get concerned with my successes and failures, when my biggest failure is actually missing out on time with the people I love. This past week was a good reminder that people make me happy and help me get through life. Life is a team effort. We need others to grow and learn, but also to keep us focused on enjoying life as we go.

Don’t take the people who love you for granted.

Journaling My Way to Peace

One of my favorite habits camp helped me to develop is journaling. Camp always encourages a time of reflection, and writing down thoughts is the best way to do this. I love being able to look back at reflections/journals from past years of camp and see how I have grown and changed as a person. A few years ago I decided to take journaling beyond camp. I started journaling a few days a week with reflections of the day and things that were on my mind. It became a great way to get some things out that I tended to bottle up. It also helped me remember the things I was celebrating that day and defining moments of growth. It also forces me to reflect rather than moving on and forgetting, which sometimes it what triggers growth.

Buying new journals is my guilty pleasure. The empty pages just scream to be filled with life and memories. It’s a very uncomplicated way to document a life. I am currently working out of three journals. I have one that I write about the things I mentioned above in and one where I journal a type of notes from sermons at my church and campus ministry. My newest endeavor is my absolute favorite journal.

Bullet journaling is the busy person’s best friend. There are some incredible blogs about bullet journaling (Tiny Ray of Sunshine, Boho Berry and Pretty Prints and Paper are my favorites right now). The goal is to encourage mindfulness and reflection while staying organized. It’s a place to keep goals, gratitude, and memories while also keeping track of lists, schedules, and habits.

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I just started my first bullet journal at the beginning of the month and I am already in love. I tend to scribble things different places and lose track of things, but also keep meticulous lists of things I need to get done. Bullet journaling has helped me have fewer stresses in my day and reflect on how well I’m doing at getting tasks done. It is healing my terrible procrastination. It also helps me see where I have time in the day to fit in tasks I don’t have scheduled in yet, which is something I was terrible at. I am not using my bullet journal as thoroughly as some people do. Yet. I am excited to see how it changes with me through the year. So, here is a look inside:

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My bullet journal of choice is the Leuchtturm1917 medium dot grid journal.The grid allows me to set it up however I like but also keep it organized. At the front there is a table of contents so I can easily find what I need. All of the pages are numbered, which makes that even easier. There are two bookmarks, so I keep those on the current month and the current day.

The beginning of any good bullet journal starts with pages for the year. Above is the first set of pages in mine. I have the calendar for each month drawn out. I have the first half of 2016 filled in with events and holidays and add to it as my schedule fills up. These are big events mainly, like concerts and trips. I also have a 2016 bucket list following December where I list fun things I want to do this year.

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Next are my “Level 10 Life” and “Level 10 Goals” pages. Boho Berry explains this well and I made mine look a lot like hers. Basically, I have rated where I think I am on a scale of 1-10 in each of the areas in my life on the “Level 10 Life” page. On the “Level 10 Goals” page I write goals for each category that will help me work towards reaching a perfect 10. This was an interesting point of reflection. I am sure it will be even more interesting when I look at it when the year comes to a close and see how far I have come, or if I moved backwards in any area.

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The next page contains a “bookshelf” of things I want to read this year. So far I only have books listed that are already on my shelf waiting to be read. I will color them in as I go (you can see one is already colored halfway as I work on it). The page next to it has my 2016 goals. I stress easily, so they are mainly goals to find more joy in my life daily and stress a whole lot less. It’s a good grounding reminder when I am having a bad day.

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Finally, the month by month pages begin. I have a fun little heading for the month of March with a few little goals under it (check off blog at least once). Then I have a place to list memories from the month. I have the Rend Collective concert I attended with my sister on there right now. It’s a place I can go back and smile at later in the year.

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My March calendar is where I keep a more detailed version of the calendar at the front. I have more meetings and appointments listed here as well as sorority events. I refer to this daily so I don’t miss anything as I plan each day. Next to the calendar is my habit tracker.

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This is a fun way to keep track of things I do daily. I like to keep track of my sleep schedule, hydration, medication, and exercise here. These are things I aim to do most days. I also keep track of things I do randomly just to see how often I do them. It is a really cool way to evaluate how I spend my time. March has been busy, so a lot of things haven’t been on the top of my list.

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The next two pages are dedicated to gratitude. I find it very important to find things I am thankful for in each day, so here I list just that. It makes me realize there is no purely bad day. Some days it’s hard to find things, but the reflection helps pull me out of bad moods.

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I also keep track of wins and lessons learned for each week. This is just another reflection method I have to evaluate my weeks and where I need to work on things to take on the next.

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Finally, I have a list where I keep track of things I am waiting to receive. Right now I just have packages listed, but I hope to expand it to keep track of phone calls and emails I am waiting on to be returned. That’s it for the beginning of the month. After that, my day to day planning begins.

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I love doodling and hand lettering, so I love doing this daily. I have a time tracker at the top which is color coded with things I have scheduled for the day. Sleep, meals, class, and extracurriculars make up most of it. It shows me where I have free time. The list below shows tasks I need to fit into that free time. Circles denote events and appointments and dots are tasks. I check them off as I complete them, or turn it into an arrow to push it to the next day. I also have the weather listed for fun. So far, this set up is really working for me.

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Sitting down at the end of each day and planning out the next has been extremely beneficial to me. It lets me refocus and recenter myself to take on what comes next. It is also a huge motivator to get things done. I look forward to seeing how my entries change month by month and to see what types of pages I add. There are so many fun ideas on Pinterest and blogs that I hope to work in once I get the main journaling goals down. This is the ultimate stress relief technique for me, and I plan to update the blog as it grows and changes with me.

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