Week of May 2

Wow, this semester has been crazy. Even taking fewer credits, I felt overwhelmed probably 90% of the time. When I look back on it though, there are only a few changes I would make. From class, using positive thinking is the best way to recap what I experienced this semester and how I can make an action plan to change it for next semester.


I loved traveling with the band, but I wish I was able to come home to grieve my grandmother’s passing. In hindsight, everyone was incredibly supportive and I had never felt so at home 1,290 miles away.


I loved living in my own apartment, but I wish I had gotten to know my roommate better before we decided to live together. Now I know what kind of person I am when I’m on my own and deciding to live at home next year means I was able to get my first car.

I loved all my classes, but I wish I hadn’t let my anxiety take over me when the going got tough. Now I know stress management and mindfulness exercises to help me recenter instead of spiraling down.


     In class, my pre and post test scores weren’t all that surprising. On my pretest, my negative score was 33, on the post it was 23, a 10 point change! My positive went up by 9, so over all the difference in scores on the pre was 6 (with negative being greater) and the post was 13 (with positive being greater). I can absolutely feel the change in myself even if the semester got out of hand at sometimes. On the well being tracker, I can see that my weekly feelings fluctuated a lot, but the differences were less sharp at the end than the beginning. Emotionally, my score went up  by 0.7, which I can see as being just a day-to-day change. Socially, I went up by 1.4, which I can attribute to finding a new best friend and getting close with her. Psychologically, I went up by 2.2, the biggest difference. While my depression lessened, my anxiety worsened, so I’m really surprised about this score going up so much. Overall, there was a 1.54 increase, which doesn’t surprise me too much as things weren’t really going my way at the beginning of the year. When I got out of my anxiety cloud, I improved in all aspects.
     This class has been immensely helpful, even amidst all the assignments and quick lessons. Mindfulness is one of the biggest things I took out of it because it was something we practiced every day before class. I loved the personality traits and strength finding lessons because I like to know about myself, what negative situations I might be prone to, and then how to get through them and act appropriately. Specifically the Strength Finder was great to know because it gave me a lot of insight for my career.
     Thank you to all the professors who came to speak with us and especially the team that worked together to pull the class together. I wish you all the best of luck next semester, passing on the invaluable lessons we learned this year to the next generation on Rams!

Week of April 25

The past week, I was assigned the move journal. I used the tracker online for my journal and found that the food journal was also there, so I started keeping that. I found that it was difficult to only keep one and not the other because they are so closely tied.

Every day, I have a 20 minute uphill walk to class and I (used to) always say it was my workout for the day. I knew it wasn’t nearly enough and I blamed my lack of other exercise on being so busy trying to get work done and being in classes and meetings all day. It used to be difficult to even get out of  bed when it was cold out, but now that it’s warmer, I’m finding that I’m going outside more and doing more physical activities. You could totally blame it on the crazy Virginia weather, but it’s really up to yourself to move more!
On Tuesday, I was lucky enough to be able to take a day off from class and take a mental health day. It started after a (quite embarrassing) early morning breakdown from stress when I went to the park with my dog. We usually go for 2 miles, but I needed more time to  be alone and we ended up going around the 2 mile circuit twice. When I got back in the car, I realized that it was only 8 am; I wouldn’t even have been awake yet if I was in the city. I felt energized and surprisingly, not the least bit groggy. When I arrived home, my mom asked if I wanted to come with her to the office and I was more than happy to be with her. At 11, when my classes would have started, I found that instead of tired and slightly grumpy, I had already been very productive in planning for vacation bible school. I can absolutely attribute this irregular morning productivity to being up early and being active. Starting my day like this is something I hope to do once I start commuting and have more afternoon classes than morning classes and don’t have to worry about rushing into the city.
The same day, I also made better food choices because I was at home and my parents keep healthier food around. After my walk, I came home to orange juice, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal (courtesy of momma!) which is much better than the few crackers or Nutri-Grain bar I would grab at the apartment. On our way to the office, I was able to grab a salad at Kroger topped with all my favorites, which maybe had a little bit more bad-for-you stuff than it should have… But at lunch I found that I was satisfied and didn’t feel like I was in a food coma or still wanting another salad and a half. It balanced out with the exercise I had gotten that morning and what I ate for breakfast. This is the perfect example of how it’s hard to track only food or motion, because they both affect your well being in very similar ways. Morning exercise and/or a good breakfast can leave you energized until lunch time and, when you continue to eat right and move frequently, you’ll have energy all day to live out your happiness.

Week of April 18th

Preparing for this week was difficult for me because of the Emotional Alchemy selection. From the topic and title, I figured it would be about interactions with people and maybe why we do or don’t get along with certain people. What I read though put me through a loop. The first section is titled “Abandonment” and the last thing in my mind was that it would describe me. I got about half way through and realized that I match all of the actions, but not the initial reasons for the behaviors. I grew up with very loving parents, having my needs met and more, not a broken family and a reason to feel like I was left. However, when people ask the ice breaker question “What is your biggest fear?”, the answer is always being alone. I started reading bits and pieces out loud to my friend and even she said she could see this in me, but that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. She proceeded to talk about how because of this, I make good friends very quickly and have many enduring friendships. I can see where this is good, but as it says in the article, it can turn bad, especially in romantic relationships. I’m testing myself now with this schema because my boyfriend goes to Hampden-Sydney and it’s been difficult trying to not be “clingy” and letting him do his own thing at school. It’s been going well, which is a huge improvement for me and is teaching me how to be okay without another person by my side all the time.

I thought that the uncomfortable stuff was over, but then I got to the next section about deprivation. I don’t fit  this entirely, but I do see resemblance when they talk about how a person with this schema often takes care of others incessantly while not meeting their own needs. I do this all the time, but mostly because I get joy out of taking care of people. I used to have a hard time remembering to take care of myself, but now I’ll make sure my needs are met  before I go out of my way to help. This definitely comes off as narcissistic, but when you’re learning you have to be strict about it and then you can loosen up and change how you do things. I’m finally at the point where I’m able to help others while caring for myself at the same time.
Reading the rest of the schemas, I noticed how each one brought a different person in my life to mind. I think this shows how diverse we are and that sometimes interactions are difficult but not because we don’t like a person. I can see how some may clash, press each others hot buttons, and cause a rift. While we are all different in this way, we are all the same in how we can solve these conflicts by identifying how we see the situation, how the other person sees it, and then resolving the disagreement. Too often we are in the wrong mindset in our own little box and are not open to seeing the other person’s point of view. It’s when we get out of the box that we are able to identify each others needs and have a heart of peace.

Week of March 28th

I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the prompt until write before I wrote this, so I didn’t intentionally go out of my way to do something. Thinking back on my week though, I could recall lots of things I did. But this proves something I believe to be very important: acts of kindness should be habitual. I shouldn’t have to go into my week saying “I need to do 3 good things this week”. While it’s helpful to set a goal like that, it should just be something you do, not something to check off of a list. I can say I’ll do 3 things, but it shouldn’t stop there. People should just be kind to other people. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. We learned earlier this week that it takes 3 good things to negate one bad thing. When I think about this, I consider that I don’t know the lives of strangers and my kind act could be the one that negates their bad experience. On the other hand, I could be the first act to make their day a little brighter. It’s about perspective, and having the right one can make big changes over time!
This week, one of the things I did was when my boyfriend drove up from Hampden-Sydney for my birthday. I knew that he was coming to my apartment right after taking the GMAT for grad school and would be exhausted. The plan was to go out to dinner, but instead I came home from class and started to make his favorite dinner and a small cake to celebrate both of us. When he arrived, he was exhausted, so he took a nap, but when he woke up he was so surprised to find that i had dinner ready for us! He said he didn’t have to and that he wanted to go out to celebrate me, but I had to convince him insisted that I did this for him, especially that it was the second time he had to take it.
Last night my friend called to tell me that she was really stressing out over a test she had today and just needed someone to talk to, so of course I did. While we were talking, I started to browse through cards on Postable.com and I decided to send one to her with an encouraging message. While she won’t get it for about a week, I’m excited for when she gets it so she has a reminder of how great she is, how much I value our friendship, and how close she is to graduating!
Acts of kindness usually come with some recognition, usually a simple thank you. In my case, both came and will come with huge thank you’s and a big hug. While it’s nice to know that my actions are valued and have made someone happy, it isn’t the reason I do them. I hope that when I do them, I will make someone’s day better. In turn, maybe they’ll pass it on, but they might not, and that’s okay. You have to think of it  like a math problem: 3+3=6 is like receiving an act of kindness and holding onto it. You’ll still have 6, but you won’t lose anything. You can also do 3×3=9, you multiply the feeling by doing an act of kindness for someone else. Not passing it onjust means they’ve chosen to hold onto that feeling a little longer, and hopefully they’ll consider passing it on multiplying that feeling. for themselves and giving it to others.
Week of March 21

Week of March 21

This week was rough, as I was unable to attend class at all, but I’m so glad it’s almost over because this weekend is Easter, I get to spend time with my family, and my birthday is on Tuesday! I’m glad to finally be back in Richmond and relax a little bit now that the band season is over. Shout out to everyone who encouraged me and helped me along the way so I could keep up in school while living out my passion

 

Making small changes are honestly so difficult to make but once you start, they’re a chain reaction and all come together for a big change. Currently, I know one small change I want to make to benefit my future, even though it’s not necessarily about my school work now, is to pick out one thing each day that I want to teach to my students. This builds a huge bank of knowledge for myself to pull from later when a conversation slows down, when a student asks a question out of the blue, or they want more information on something related to the curriculum. Kids are curious, so as teachers, we need to build up our internal library.

 

A small change I wish to make to improve my authenticity of my personal development plan is to do something every day that makes me feel spectacular, but without anyone else. There are lots of things I do that make me feel important and valued with other people, but not enough by myself and realizing my own self worth. It could be wearing a cute outfit, eating a home cooked lunch, or reading a book that I love. Doing these kinds of things for only myself will help me learn to love myself without needing it to come from other people. There are days where I’ll feel awful because I’m not pleasing someone else or I feel like the whole world is out to get me down. At these times, I can learn to count on myself to boost my mood and push through the day as best as I can.

 

The article that resonated most with me is Sheldon’s, about changing your actions and attitude, not necessarily your circumstances. This is something that in my future career, I’ll have to focus on a lot, both for myself and for my students. One situation where I would have to be mindful of this is if I have a student who is consistently acting out, doesn’t want to work, or isn’t grasping a concept as quickly as I would hope they would. The circumstance of having a troubled student can’t be changed, they were placed in my class and I can’t just hand him to someone else because he’s “too difficult”. Instead, I have to make the best of the situation. It will require more work on my part, such as researching other teaching methods or sitting with the student to figure out the root of  his behavioral issues. Changing my actions here are the only way to handle the unchangeable circumstance. On the other hand, this is a lesson I’ll definitely want to teach my kids. It’s so easy for them to just resort to saying “I can’t do it” when they just don’t want to. I’ll remind them that having a positive attitude is the first step in success and without it, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Something I see a lot of is “alternative phrasing”, where a teacher will list several very negative phrases, like “I can’t”, and then lists ways to rephrase it so it’s either neutral or positive, like “maybe I’ll try it a different way”. Such an easy concept is hard for a child to grasp sometimes, but it can easily be made a habit when you work with them on it early on.

Week of March 14

Hello from Oklahoma City! I’m currently with the VCU Peppas getting ready to play for the NCAA Tournament and while I’m exhausted from traveling (the time change was AWFUL, I’m an hour behind everyone at home!), I’m so excited to have this opportunity. Playing with this group is a huge part of the science of my happiness!

At the very beginning of the Brown and Goleman article on leadership, they talk specifically how a leader needs to have good social skills to be successful. When they can connect with others, they become more enjoyable and trusted by their followers. This spoke to me SO much because people always tell me I’m going to be a great teacher. Sometimes it’s because they see how patient I am with kids, but a lot of the time it’s because they can see that I can easily connect with a wide variety of other people and become a leader in any situation. The article goes on to talk about the importance of mirror neurons and it reminded me of when I was in Brooklyn last week. One of our players was suddenly very ill and, being a first responder, I was the first at his side. I had to give clear directions to people around me to take sure we could take him out of the arena and get him the help he needed. Specifically in this emergency, I acted with purpose and didn’t appear worried on the outside, which helped calm down everyone else and in the end got him the help he needed more quickly.

When Brown begins to talk about those with lesser social skills, I remembered that I have to be more mindful of my actions and how I present myself when I’m with my special education students. The majority of them lack proper social skills and I have to constantly remind myself that I have to act the way I want them to act because they mirror me so closely. When I am more aware of my actions, I’m reminded that everyone is more connected than we think. Material objects or shared experiences are usually what we think of when considering what brings people together, but body language and mirroring someone we want to become close with is also key because it reaches them without them really thinking about it. A lot of my friends are also very social because we tend to act the same way when we’re out together. On the other hand, my introverted friends are my friends because when I like to be alone, they understand why on a deeper level. It’s so important to check in with yourself and see how you’re behaving before you judge how someone else is, because there’s a good chance they’re just acting how you are, whether that be cranky and frustrated or filled with school spirit for the game tomorrow. (Go Rams!)

Week of February 22

Something I think about every day is how much I love teaching and how excited I am to start the teacher prep program! Before I even read the prompt, I was brought back to this when I read the Play section in the article for this week. The three mechanisms in forming HQC’s are cognitive, emotional, and behavioral. When I have a classroom of my own, I’ll constantly have to develop and modify the high quality connections I make with my students based on their needs.

The cognitive mechanism is important because I need to teach my students to take the place of others and imagine what they are experiencing to develop empathy. Considering I will be working in a high risk area of Richmond, I will also have to enhance my empathy to see where my students are coming from. If a student is failing, I need to figure out what I can give them to help them succeed. On the other hand, if a student is doing spectacularly, I would need to figure out what they are doing and implement it with the rest  of my class. The emotional aspect of HQC’s will be the easiest part to maintain in my classroom, especially because of emotional contagion. Last year, I had one student that did very well and I wanted to use their work as an example in a teacher’s meeting. They knew their work was great, and they shared this with all the other students. I expected a lot of them to complain that their work wasn’t chosen, but instead I got the opposite. Instead, they all started to work harder and when I would say how good it was, they would go around telling their classmates what a good job they did! It was truly amazing to see students complimenting each other on their work and pointing out the good things they saw in each other. Finally, there’s the behavioral aspect to forming HQC’s. Boy, do I know behavior in the classroom and how hard it can sometimes be to form a high quality connection with a chronically misbehaving student! One thing mentioned in this section that I’ve found to be highly effective is play. This method brings the kids to a level playing field most of the time. Students that are academically gifted and students who are lagging behind will all play together without worrying what happens inside the classroom. This brings them together as genuine people, not just a letter grade on a test.

All of these things help me develop HQC’s with my students year after year and maintain them as they get older and see me in the hallways with new classes. It also helps the students make significant connections with their classmates. In class I talked about how, even after 13 years, I can still tell you who was in my kindergarten class and specific experiences I had with them. It is because of my teacher’s diligence in helping us form these HQC’s that I am now capable of forming them for myself and am able to teach the same skills to my students.

Week of February 8th

When I saw the first article’s title, “Does This Mean I’m Crazy?”, I knew I’d be able to relate it back to myself very easily. When I started taking antidepressants, I was really overwhelmed with coming to terms with my depression and anxiety (and honestly, I still don’t think I have). I didn’t think I was crazy, just that other people would see me as crazy. The seven hidden worries Khan discusses are spot on, because at one point or another I definitely thought about them. The second question, “Am I Weak, Bad, or Lazy?” especially resonates with me. I’m a happy person and having to realize that sometimes I’m not that person scares me. Too often I think others are seeing me as lazy because I don’t always want to go out. Kahn also says “Thoughts such as ‘I feel like I shouldn’t be whining so much’ or ‘My partner says I should just snap out of it’ are the kinds of reactions that… reinforce patients’ beliefs that they are not so much ill as behaving badly.” Yep, this is what hit me hard. I still think I can snap out of it, but the reality is that I can’t just do it tomorrow.

In “Positive Intervention in Clinical Practice”, there’s a method that clinicians use called positive interventions where they basically try to match activities to a person’s strengths and circumstance so that they feel happier doing something that makes them feel worthwhile. Without having gone to a therapist, I know that my depression was much worse over the summer because I wasn’t playing with the pep band. It’s an environment where I feel welcome and where I can strive to be better in each performance. I’m glad to know that I was using this practice without knowing I was and helping better myself.

This week, something not so great happened between me and my roommate where my anxiety went through the roof and my depression came out heavily as anger. After this happened, I was able to explain to her, based on what we talked about with Dr. Sood, that recently my depression was making me very irritable and that I didn’t mean everything I said. I reacted instead of responding. We got a little further and we talked about her history with depression. She said that she’s never felt depressed, but her boyfriend was and how hard it was for her to deal with sometimes. She loves him dearly, but sometimes it takes a toll on her and she feels like she isn’t doing enough or there’s something she could be doing to make him feel better. I reminded her that it’s not her, and that she’s very strong for battling depression with him. In turn, she made sure I knew that she was with me as well and cared about my mental health just as much as her boyfriend’s.

If I had to look at myself and decide if anxiety is helpful, I’d be quick to answer no. My anxiety makes it incredibly hardtop function normally some days. However, I can see where for other people, it’s very helpful. Let’s look at procrastination. You can put off work until the last second, letting the anxiety build up, and it’s like the adrenaline rush you need to get the project finished. In my case, my anxiety is especially high if I have nothing to do. I’ll always be thinking that I’m forgetting something or could be doing something more useful than watching a movie or talking on the phone. Alternatively, this kind of anxiety can spark your memory to remember something you forgot to do! That happens with my roommate a lot and it’s pretty entertaining because I KNOW the face she makes when she’s forgotten something. It truly depends on your preexisting conditions and whether or not you handle large amounts of anxiety on a daily basis.

Week of February 1st

When we looked at the scores for the SURPS survey, I was actually really surprised with my answers! For impulsivity, I’m on the border between low and medium (9). While I don’t get angry easily, and certainly almost never act on my anger,  I do have a hard time resisting urges such as going and being social over doing school work. (Added approx. 20 minutes after typing this, I did get angry with my roommate about something and I had to go cool off. I guess I do sometimes get angry easily, but I always hold it in as to not upset anyone.)

For sensation-seeking, I’m not surprised with getting a 15 right in the middle. I love being social, get bored easily, and am always looking for something to do. However, if I know it could be risky and have serious negative consequences, I won’t try to push it. I expected anxiety sensitivity to be high because I do have severe anxiety and I can pinpoint several times I’ve used each of the risky coping strategies. A reason I’m taking this class is to learn how to better manage my anxiety, so I look forward to gaining those skills. The final trait that both surprised and didn’t surprise me was a 25 for negative thinking. With questions like “I believe that my future holds great promise”, “I am happy”, and “I am very enthusiastic about my future”, I thought I would score lower (which is actually better for these scores). I could have mixed them up, because in every other trait, 1=strongly disagree but in this one, 1=strongly agree. I do feel happy, and I am VERY excited about becoming a teacher and what my future holds. When I saw the results though, I realized that I do spend a lot of time alone (which is a result of my depression, because I love being with people but sometimes I can’t bring myself to go out), I’ve become increasingly irritable if I spend too much time with someone, and the coping strategies are all in line with things I have done. Overall, I’m not entirely surprised, but I am definitely more aware of and able to avoid the risky coping mechanisms that come along with my personality traits.
I already have a hard time trusting my gut, because I tend to listen to my head or heart first. This was really a hard thing to come to terms with when I decided not to rush a sorority. My heart told me yes because I wanted to be a part of a group that loved me and cared about me, even though I already had the pep band. My head said yes because one of the sororities’ philanthropy is Autism Speaks and I want to be in special education, so that’s an awesome networking opportunity! Finally, when it came to listening to my gut, it said no and all I heard were the voices of other pep band members and my favorite songs to play. I had to come to terms with the fact that the band is like a sorority in that I have a family and we get to make a huge impact in the community by doing what we love. In the end I don’t regret my decision not to rush because I can remember all the amazing things I’ve done with the band and if I hadn’t stuck with it,all the experiences I would have missed out on.

Week of January 25th

Trying to see myself in a positive light isn’t always difficult since I came to the point in my life where I realize I should do things for myself and not to impress or make anyone else happy. However, sometimes I get really down on myself. It often happens when I realize I can’t go out to a concert or party with my friends because of my age. When this happens, though, I do my best to look at all the friends I have that are my age and invite them to do something we can both enjoy such as painting or going to grab dinner. The feeling are all internal, but the solutions are external. Something I’d like to work on is not relying on being with other people to make myself feel better; I’d like for the some solutions to be internal. Mindfulness and meditation, no matter how brief, can be a solution…

In a blog by Georgia, she talks about a meditation exercise that one of her professors led where the students listened to a river and imagined each of their thoughts that came to them as leaves. They were then to imagine each leaf dropping into the river and floating away.
Depending on how you take it, this could be really good or really bad. Georgia got a lot out of it because she saw it that “you are not killing your thoughts but just gently letting them travel down the stream.” It’s important to do it this way because, on the opposite side, you could imagine each thought floating away and never returning. This isn’t how to solve a problem, so it’s important to analyze the exercise before doing them so that they can be the most beneficial.

 

Week of January 20th

I’m the type of person to never ask for help. Courtney Westlake said it best:

     “Accepting help is actually giving others the gift of being able to take action and show love to you when they might otherwise feel helpless. For whatever reason, it seems to be a natural inclination to turn down an offer of assistance. Maybe we don’t want to inconvenience anyone or burden anyone with our personal problems, but we tend to answer those offers with “oh thank you, but I’m fine,” even when we aren’t fine. But I have been on both sides of helping – and I will attest that it IS a tremendous gift, both to be helped and to provide help.”
That’s powerful stuff.  She talks about being on the asking and giving ends of helping, something I can’t say I’m a master at. I always offer and give help, but rarely do I ask for it. Like I said above, if I have a list of things to do, I won’t ask for help to complete anything, I put it solely on myself to accomplish everything.
One upon a time in a land 20 minutes southwest of Richmond, I was sitting at home planning a retreat for 150 high school students. Catering, lesson plans, free time activities, small group discussion topics, and the famous late night staff trip to Sonic all had to be planned in a week for the retreat happening in a month and a half. I didn’t have to take it all on, but I felt like I had to because I was the oldest (and head) peer leader. When I was almost  at a breaking point, the younger small group leaders stepped in and surprised me by covering the catering, which I had completely forgotten about. Sometimes I let myself get too far and it can negatively affect everyone involved, not just myself.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that the biggest thing I think that contributes to well being is having a network of people who will stand by you for support and love. When I least expected it, my peers pulled through, and without prompt. They knew what I needed, and knew I wouldn’t willingly accept their help, so they just did it. That’s amazing. It reassured me that even when I had absolutely no sense of well being, they were there for me. And I guess that’s just what well being is, knowing without knowing.