Dear Journal,…

My assignment for this week was to jot down everything I ate for 3-5 days. This was pretty easy for me because I already record what I eat during the day, how much I exercise, and my goals. I decided to start this project on Monday the 25th, mostly because I was gone all weekend at VA Beach for a field hockey tournament and considering we had to eat out for every meal I didn’t quite stick to my normal healthy eating… oops.

Monday May 25th

I was back in my normal routine at VCU and started the day with banana. For lunch that day I had a sub with turkey, whose american cheese, spinach, lettuce, and pickles on whole wheat bread. So good! For dinner, my best friend asked me to eat at Shafer (I know I know) with her and that usually always leads to me eating more than I should. I had a ground turkey and cheese quesadilla and 1/4 of a waffle with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream on top.

Tuesday May 26th

I woke up around 9 o’clock and had an apple and a rice cake with peanut butter for breakfast. Yummy! For lunch I made myself a peanut butter and raspberry preserve sandwich on wheat bread with a package of tuna fish. This Tuesday happened to be a very special Tuesday. It was my 2 year anniversary with my boyfriend Jack! Now considering I am running dangerously low on swipes (I had 3 at the time) I was really hoping we would go out to dinner.. and we did!! We went to a place called The Boathouse and it was amazing! For dinner we had muscles, shrimp, crab, oysters, and lobster! He knows how to take a girl on a date! That was without a doubt the best dinner I have ever had as a poor college girl.

Wednesday May 27th

I got a late start on breakfast and did not eat until around 11 am. I had an apple (I try to have an apple every morning for energy!) and maple brown sugar oatmeal. I have never been an oatmeal lover but I decided to give it a chance and I thought it would be a good idea to put a spoonful of peanut butter in it. WRONG!! It was way too sweet for my liking! I didn’t finish it and I will definitely not be wasting a good spoonful of peanut butter again. For lunch I decided to use one of three swipes I had left. I got a half salad with spring leaves, carrots, tomatoes, sunflower seed kernels, salmon, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing with a side of three bean chili. It was amazing! I went to the gym at 7 o’clock that evening and finished around 8:30 pm. For dinner I knew I needed a lot of protein so I made a peanut butter and raspberry preserve sandwich on wheat bread and a chocolate protein shake, which are very good incentives to work out!

What I learned from this and actually already knew is that I tend to eat pretty healthy! My diet does no consist of fried, greasy, or junk food. I know I feel a lot better about myself when I eat clean and I exercise. I love to look in the mirror and see my progress and see a better a me!

ARK

The challenge this week was for each of us to do two (or more) acts of random kindness in our community. Sometimes I don’t think we realize just how easy it is to do something kind or how many times we do it throughout the day without even realizing. This can be something as little as just smiling at someone you pass by. My mom actually said to me today “There’s always someone to share a smile with. You never know what is going on inside”. She has always inspired me to be kind to the people that help us out on a daily basis. This includes the chef’s at our dining halls, the custodial staff in our dorms, the campus connector drivers. Everyone is important and everyone deserves to be appreciated.

My first act of kindness this week occurred in my dining hall, Jonah’s, on the MCV campus. The student in front of me was trying to swipe his card for a meal and the card was continually not working. I could tell by his demeanor that he felt bad for holding up the line and probably a little embarrassed to. I did not want him to have to put his food back so I stepped up and told the cashier that I would swipe for both of us. The student was immediately gracious for what I had done for him and, honestly, I felt very proud of myself for stepping up in that situation (considering I barely have any swipes left to provide for myself without going into extreme starvation this next month and half of school).

My second act of kindness this week happened outside by the Cabell library during the day. I was crossing the street to get to my next class when I noticed a girl a little ahead of me drop her VCU ID without realizing. I ran across the street to get her ID and tried to chase her down through the crowd of people before she disappeared. Luckily, I caught up with her and was able to return her ID. She had no idea she even dropped it and was thankful someone chose to pick it up instead of just walking by. I know that if I dropped my ID, I would want someone to do the same thing because let’s face it, we are all broke college students who do not have $20 to spare on a brand new ID.

Doing something kind for others in my day to day life makes me feel better about myself and proud of myself to applying what we learn in class in real life. I have always believed in good and bad karma. I have even experienced good karma within minutes of doing something kind for someone else! It really reassures me that there is a greater force than all of us that notices the way we all choose to use our strengths and how we apply them in our lives to be better than we were the day before.

Being Mindful

I recently read a book called “The Liar in Your Life: The Way to Truthful Relationships” by Robert Feldman. One of the chapters focused on self deceit and I felt it had a lot to do with how our behaviors actually do affect others. An example Feldman used was someone telling you that you are not good enough and you will never succeed no matter how hard you try. This causes one to believe that he or she really is not good enough and never will succeed. This ties along with what Dr. Reina was saying about learned helplessness.

Social awareness cultivated through mindfulness improves social relationships because it teaches us how to live in the now. It makes it easier for us to connect with people and learn more about one another by being present and not focusing on something that happened in the past and something that may happen in the future. Social awareness and mindfulness also helps us feel interconnected because we have freed our minds of thinking about why things happen. Instead, it makes it easier for us to accept that there is a reason for the things that happen in our lives and other’s lives. Awareness impacts how we treat others because once we have learned to live for the present and push away the distractions, we can become happier and more relaxed people. We will not project our personal issues onto people we meet or friends we have had forever.

Via Confirms I’m as Funny as I Thought

This week was probably my favorite week in SOH so far. I always love learning new things about myself I most likely never would have seen before (Even if it does cost me a whopping $15). According to the Gallup Strengths Finder, my top 5 strengths are:

  1. Empathy: Ability to sense other people’s feelings by imagining yourself in their lives or situations.
  2. Individualization: Intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. Have a gift for figuring out how different people can work together.
  3. Connectedness: Have faith in the links among all things. Believe that there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a meaning.
  4. Developer: Recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each improvement and derive satisfaction from evidence of progress.
  5. Belief: Have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose in life.

What I learned about myself through Gallup is that my top 5 strengths mostly revolve around the well being of others and building relationships, which was something I was proud to learn. The strength I felt most positive about was Individualization. My ability to pay attention to detail comes through in this skill. I love to listen closely and remember the things my friends and family say they love/want so later down in the road I can prove I always listen by picking out the perfect gift or giving the best surprise. Nothing makes me happier than people knowing I actually listen to their thoughts and feelings. The strength I felt I need to start using to its full potential in my personal and professional life is Developer. I love to give encouragement and praise for success to the people around me but there can be times I notice improvement, but instead of feeling satisfaction I feel envy. In class we learned that the envy we feel towards other people can be sometimes us being envious of a strength we don’t execute as strongly as others. I want to be able to learn how to use my strengths to the fullest.

The second strength test we had to take was the VIA Character Strengths finder, my favorite of the two. These 5 strengths have more to do with our personality as opposed to the Gallup Strengths, which had to do more with personal success. My top 5 strengths provided by VIA are:

  1. Humor and Playfulness: Likes to laugh and tease, bring smiles to other people, see the light side, and making (not necessarily telling) jokes.
  2. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: Notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and skilled performance in various domains of life.
  3. Forgiveness and Mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting others shortcomings; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful.
  4. Capacity to Love and Be Loved: Value close relations with others in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated.
  5. Social Intelligence: Being aware of the motives and feelings of others; knowing what to do to fit into social situations.

Like my 5 Gallup strengths, my VIA strengths revolve around understanding the people around me, specifically the ones closest to me. The two strengths I feel I have harnessed the best are Humor and Playfulness (without a doubt) and Forgiveness and Mercy (also spot on). I love love love to make people laugh and to make light of every situation. It is hard for to me take pep talks, being scolded by professors, and even slow dances (sorry Jack) seriously without want to break out in laughter or imitation. This would have to be my favorite strength of mine. I was surprised, however, that I did not get Forgiveness and Mercy for my Number 2 strength. It is hard for me to ever hold a grudge or remain on bad terms with my closest friends or family. It is easy for me to forgive but in a sense it can be a curse and blessing. There is a fine line between being too nice and being taken advantage of and forgiving but being understood that there can only be one second chance.

Overall I am very pleased with my 10 strengths and excited to start celebrating the things I do best instead of focusing on my weaknesses. When we all learn how to use our strengths to our best ability, we will be be on the road to a better us.

Blackwatch on 3!

Blackwatch on 3!

When I think of positive relationships, the first thing that comes to mind is a team, more specifically my travel soccer team, Blackwatch. To say we had a great relationship is an understatement. We were family. We were a group of girls that began playing for a this brand new team at 7 years old, not knowing the sacrifices, the heart break, and the triumph we were going to experience together for the next 10 years of our lives.

That decade of our lives was spent learning not only how to work as a team, but as friends, sisters, and people we could always rely on to build us up even when we felt at our lowest. We would not have made it as far as we did, win as many games as we won, and have as many trophies on our shelves as we do, however, if it was not for our inspiration, Coach Matt. He held the team together at times it seemed we were falling apart and always believed in our talent no matter what. Even when he had a strange way of showing it, he never stopped caring for each of us and NEVER let us believe we just were not good enough.

A year has passed since we played our final game but to this day I still enforce the discipline I learned all those years in my every day life here at VCU. I push myself even when I want to give up because I know that giving up was and is never an option, I understand how to work as a team and how to build someone up when they need it most, and most importantly, I have learned how to listen, and sometimes all a person needs is just someone to listen. I can truly say that being a part of a team I considered family has shaped me into the person I am today and given me the tools I need to be a positive friend and create uplifting relationships in the future.

Blackwatch on 3!

Competence in a Relationship

The lecture this week covered what we thought it meant to have competence in a relationship. It was clear the the list was far longer for the components that make a good, healthy relationship. That raises the question, do young people look for more in a relationship than adults or do we expect too much, per say? I know high school was only last year for some of us, including myself, but from the outside looking in I can already notice the outrageous expectations from younger people in relationships. Being away from home and in college can make some people seriously grow up fast and I think this also applies to growing in our relationships. Competence in relationships means some of the most basic components you find even in friendships. Some of these basic factors include honesty, communication, compromise, trust, and compassion.

When Professor Salvatore asked the class to think of the happiest couple we know, the couple that came to my mind executed all of these basic factors in their relationship. This gives me no doubt that it is the reason they have been together for three years strong and still set an example for college relationships and all relationships in general.

As we grow older I think we gain a better understanding of how to make a relationship healthy. There is a video of an interview conducted by Steve Harvey, interviewing a couple that explains The 5 Love Languages, a book by Dr. Gary Chapman, that is has always stuck with me as something to think about. It discusses how we may not receive love the way our partners receive love, therefore, we need to learn to understand how to show our love in a way that our partner will feel cherished and important. This is something I feel we can all learn with age to remain in a happy and flourishing relationship.

If you are interested, the the video is below. You will not regret it!

13/14

After opening my letter in class, my index card read “Anxiety Sensitivity: 13, Hopelessness: 14”. FOURTEEN. I knew I wasn’t the MOST positive person out of the bunch but I sure did not feel like I was one of the most negative! I can understand my anxiety score being so high because it is something I have always had to deal with, especially since beginning college. After I got these scores, I called my best friend and honestly just cried and asked “What is wrong with me?? Why do I have such a high, negative self reflection??”

Surprisingly, I think my SURPS score was the best thing that could have happened. When I ended the call,  I immediately realized that I needed to make a change and make it ASAP. I did not want to go on and not at least try to gradually feel like I could bring my anxiety and hopelessness scores down. When I got back to my dorm that day, I researched soup kitchens in Richmond, which is something I have always wanted to do. The Grace and Holy trinity Episcopal Church right between Altria Theater and Johnson Hall hold a soup kitchen every Friday at 1 pm and I have gone two weeks in a row now. Nothing has made me feel so at ease and happy with myself than serving our community. This is one reason why I love having this Happiness class and my Human Spirituality class during the same semester. I took my SURPS results and took what I learned in spirituality about finding our spiritual leanings and found something in the community to make me happy and work on my anxiety and hopelessness scores.

SURPS

My SURPS results were not what I was looking forward to after completing the survey. This is mostly because it told me what I already knew about myself, but just did not want to admit. It definitely put my personality into perspective for me and was ultimately a wake up call. I had already began to make a change for the better in my life, but the results gave me the extra push I needed to accept as much positivity and good health in my life as I can. Our personality traits can very heavily determine our outlook of life, situations, and ourselves. The most important thing I feel in life is to have a positive view of yourself and that starts with changing our predispositions for the better.

The Universe is Intentional

Just recently in my Human Spirituality class we watched a SuperSoul Session video discussing how to open ourselves up to the universe and be the greatest version of ourselves. One thing that stuck with me was something Marianne Williamson said, “The Universe is Intentional.” By this she means that the universe intends for us to look within ourselves to reach self actualization. It will be difficult to let go of the control we have over our present selves and allow ourselves to realize that we are all a part of something bigger. We will face obstacles, both external and internal. It is hard for us to change the image we have created in our own heads for ourselves. “I am who I am”, we think. But when we realize we have a larger purpose than what we are doing right now in this point in time, it becomes easier to move forward. It can be more than just ourselves that hold us back. There will always be people that are still in search of their purpose and still have the mindset of “me, me me.” And there will also be bad days that make you question what you are doing this for. You will ask “Is this all really worth it?” Those are the obstacles that will be faced on our way to a positive life and self actualization. It will not be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

Happy, Happy, Happy

I am not exaggerating when I say I have THE most optimistic boyfriend in the world. He would not dare let me go a minute being unhappy. “Happy Savvy”, as he would say. Something he fails to realize sometimes is that it is not as easy for all of us to be as happy as he is all the time! As much as we would like to be and strive to be, sometimes it just isn’t possible. Its natural to feel other emotions and we should not try to mask them just to keep a smile on our face at all times. We all feel and some of us feel more deeply than others and that is okay! But I think that is something we all need to understand about each other. We cannot expect our peers to recover as quickly or as easily as we do. The only thing that matters is we all get back to our happy place at our own pace by DOING WHAT MAKES US HAPPY! I know we have all said something along the lines of “Nothing can make this better” at some point in our lives. And then guess what, we do something we love and somehow, even if it is just for a minute, we feel better. Keeping your mind off of what is causing you pain, or hurt, or anger, or frustration is what contributes to our well being. Things like singing, exercising, watching videos on Youtube, playing with a pet, or ANYTHING that makes you happy provides us a better well being. The hardest thing we need to overcome is the doubt we place in ourselves that we are not able to make things better in our own lives and that we do not have control of our happiness. Once we cross that bridge, we should be able to see ourselves and our peers in a whole new way.