Brāno Drāno

First off, this article has nothing to do with the Drāno clog-busting product, but it has everything to do with clog-busting your brain and here’s what I mean by that. Creatives of all types face the ultimate fear of just stopping up. Whether you are a writer, a dancer, an architect, if your job has anything to do with creating something new, something transformative you become aware of the fact that sometimes ideas just stop flowing.

Gosh, don’t we just wish there was some type of Drāno safe to use on our brains that would get rid of whatever it is stopping our creative flow? Well, luckily there is an answer and you don’t have to pour anything into your brain pipes. (What are those?) Sometimes the optional, occasional coffee down your asophogus pipe is a good idea.(Because sometimes that’s all it takes.)

Let’s start with some of the reasons you might be facing this creative block. Some cases are more extreme than others but they can all be solved. Often times there is an external pressure such as a deadline or payment. In cases like these, unless you work great under pressure, we can find ourselves thinking I can’t do this or It’s not enough time. The reality is, the only reason these become excuses is because you’ve told yourself they are. This brings us right into internal pressures.

Negativity you place within yourself with statements like those or being in a hard place mentally in life or even being in a negatve environment physically can all cause these blocks. Now, at this point you may be nodding your head and thinking yeah, that sounds like me and realizing just pin-pointing the problem was all you needed to get your flow back.

If you still feel stopped up or just want to know this cure I’m talking about, then here it is, here is the simple draining product you need for your brain: creating. The idea of creating to be able to continue to create seems counterintuitive, but let me explain. Say you are looking at that blank page, canvas, envelope, rock, you’re looking at anything it is that you need to keep working on but can’t. Set it aside and pick up a piece of paper. Yes, no matter what you are creating or envisioning you just need a peice of paper and something to write with, no don’t use your computer unless you are physically unable to write.

Put that pen or pencil, black or green, no matter what you are writing with just start writing or creating. If you feel a pull to draw something then draw, if you have no idea what to start with try writing about your day. How has your day been? When you write about it do you notice anything you didn’t realize you hadn’t noticed before? The idea is to just keep going, keep writing, keep drawing, even if you stop for the night and get up the next day still feeling dry of ideas just keep creating.

Eventually, you will have something. It may mean only writing one sentence or drawing one circle before you get that amazing idea. It may be ten pages later or three sketches in that you find out what you thought you were working on as a distraction and solution to your problem may actually become your masterpeice. This is no gaurantee, but I must say, it has always worked for me. Even when it doesn’t feel like anything is going on up in that head of yours, we always have something going on in there. You may find yourself writing about your breathing pattern or the way the sun looks reflecting off the floor. It could be the smallest or strangest thing, but it helps. If this doesn’t work wonders for you, well, at least I helped distract you for a little bit. Here’s is to the best of luck. Get creating!

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Roommate 101: Empathy

FreeImages.com/elvissantana

Roommate problems can be the #worst. Living with family, friends, or even pets can get really irritating depending on the situation, but it is good to take a step back and ask yourself if there is really a problem or if you’re overreacting.

In every roommate confrontation you have, or even any arguments you have in general, put your mind in a place of empathy first. Empathy is when you put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how would you feel if you were in their place.

A personal experience I’ve had recently is a case of missing shower hook crystals. I share one bathroom with my roommate. The shower curtain in our bathroom hangs from shower hooks that each have one large (fake) crystal on them. When they start to go missing, you notice.

I realized one was missing a while ago, but I didn’t say anything. A few months later and now three are gone and I’m left wondering, where the heck are my crystals? Automatically, I assumed the worst. She is breaking my stuff and not telling me about it. She is just taking them off to be spiteful. She is doing this to be passive-aggressive to me because of something I did that bothered her.

After these thoughts crossed my mind, I decided to go for empathy. Okay, I said to myself. Why might she actually be doing this? I put myself in her shoes and realized since one crystal had fallen off before we even moved in, the glue on the crystals must not be very high quality. The crystals must have fallen off, but if they did, where did they go, did she take them, where did she put them, and why didn’t she tell me?

In my head, if I broke something of hers I would want to tell her immediately and get it fixed, but I have to remember that she isn’t me and not everybody thinks that way. So, I texted her which was as much of confronting her as I could get with our opposing schedules. I tried to stay calm and text her like I was just texting a friend who, maybe, borrowed something and I just wanted it back ASAP.

“I noticed a couple crystals are missing on the shower curtain. Do you have them because I just need to glue them back on?” Then I added, “It’s fine if they fell off, I just need them to fix it.”

Her response to these texts was almost immediate and friendly. In the end, she did have the crystals and according to her the shower curtain fell one day and the crystals fell off. I am left wondering why she didn’t just tell me and give me my crystals back, but I have to be happy with the fact that I got them back and avoided conflict by keeping calming and asking her about it.

This was a simpler problem of the many we have had but the example does justice for all. Always keep your head on straight, no matter how hard it is, and remember to be empathetic.

 

 

How to End Holiday Hopelessness

Hello and happy holidays! May your final grades by high and your holiday bonus be higher. In light of impending gift shopping and hopes of good weather during heavy travel times, there has been a pretty constant theme surrounding me recently. I have been stressed and overwhelmed, but in spite of this, I have stayed relatively calm compared to past years. I haven’t really been putting myself down or feeling any sort of negativity towards myself, except when I know I should be studying instead of watching Gilmore Girls.

This is because of the optimism surrounding me in these four words: you are worth it. I prefer to keep religion apart from my posts, but in this case, it is hard to avoid. In my religion is the first place this phrase has been relevant. I find comfort in knowing I have a bigger power looking over me; that there are no accidents. For you, this may not be the case, and keeping that in mind, I can easily say this goes far beyond spiritual beliefs no matter how rooted in them they may be for me.

If nothing else, let the fact that you somehow came upon this post be a sign that you are worth it. It is said that cold, cloudy weather makes people feel more pessimistic than usual. In a time like winter where the winds pick up, the temperature drops, and the stress of the holidays can seem like a never-ending whirlwind it is super important to remember why you are doing it all. The answer is you are worth it! Early school years to college, those final tests can be brutal. So, if you find yourself thinking you want to give up or if at this point, you are just hoping for the best, think to yourself “I am worth it.”

Remember that no matter what anyone else says, you are doing this for yourself. Your family or friends may encourage you through your education by explaining that it is so you can get along better in life after school, but remember that most importantly it is because you are worth it. You deserve to know multiplication tables or when the civil rights movement began because it makes you a more rounded and intelligent being. It may help later, but most of all, you are worth it.

When work is feeling awkwardly slow or you work somewhere where the holidays brings in so much business you almost wish it was dull again, remember you are worth it. You may want to quit, but if you normally love your job and it’s just a rough season, remember you are worth it. After this time of tribulations, your happiness will be worth it.

Maybe you aren’t working or in school. Maybe your struggles are greater than that. Maybe you do not know where your next meal will come from or how you are going to pay rent next month. The great thing about the holidays is that it is a season, above all else, of giving. If you are in a rough time, now is better than ever to reach out to family, local charities, shelters, churches, and organizations. If pride has been keeping you back or you feel some sort of shame simply set those feelings aside. It may be hard, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Do you want to know why? It is because you are worth it.

 

 

 

How To Find Ambition

It can be hard to find ambition and it can be even harder to keep it. I am currently experiencing this first-hand. As a college student, I am constantly asking myself questions like should I really be putting this much money into this or am I taking the right career path? Personally, I find myself wanting to take so many different paths that I am never really sure which I want to take the most. A year and a half ago I chose to become a journalism major and I don’t want to change that, but recently I’ve been finding myself with doubts.

What if I’m not good enough? What if one day I wake up wishing I had chosen dance or creative writing, two other paths I previously considered that I am now pursuing as minors?  You may be asking yourself these questions as well and I know I am stubborn because I know the answer to all of these questions yet I just refuse to accept it. The answer is we can’t know. We can’t know now what might happen in the future. We can’t know if we will have made the wrong choice until it is too late. We can’t know if one day we will wake up wishing we had made a different choice. This may not be the answer you want and it is definitely not the answer I want, but it is the answer. It’s the answer that exists and makes sense. We can’t understand now but one day we will.

What does this mean? Why does it matter? Why am I writing out the obvious and why are you reading it? We are doing these things because while, yes, we can’t know, we can go into the unknown with someone who is also not sure. If you are feeling these ways, now you can know that you aren’t the only one because here I am laying my doubts out on the table. Still, one question I haven’t answered is where does ambition come into play here? The answer to this is we need ambition to start anything. To wake up and get out of bed in the morning we need ambition. To go outside and head to work or class, we need ambition. It takes effort and it takes reason.

When I chose to become a journalism major I had ambition. I felt like I could do something and become something and one day change something. Now, I am in journalism classes and the work isn’t easy and there have been many days where this anxiety just takes me over. If you didn’t know this already, journalism involves talking to other people. Journalists have to interview people and sometimes, more often than not, ask awkward questions that most people won’t want to answer but are needed to be asked. I don’t want to be a government writer and that is what I am covering for one class. Asking public officials and politicians questions is can be nerve racking and having to do that scares me and makes me uncomfortable. My ambition fades when it comes to these assignments.

So, at one point I had this ambition. I had this ambition to become a journalist. I know I don’t want to be a government writer and yet, for some reason, I’m letting these assignments that have nothing to do with what I really want to achieve affect my ambition. I have to find it again and look within myself for that push. I have to get through these classes to get to the ones I want to be in. I have to challenge myself first. This is where I will find my ambition. I know this time of discomfort and unease is temporary. It will pass. When I find that ambition and overcome my fears and worries I will be even better in the end. This goes for you too. No matter what it is that you are struggling through just know that it is temporary. That you can find your ambition again. It will probably be hard and take some thought and effort, but won’t it all be worth it? Do the right thing and don’t let your fears control you. I am trying so hard not to let mine control me. I know you can do it too. If you haven’t found the ambition, keep looking. It’s there.

[Co]Exist

Seek peace, do not act upon truculence.

Human nature is to want to be right. Being told we are wrong can put a kink in our self-confidence and make us second guess our own opinions. Often times, we seek truth only when it follows our own beliefs and deny the truth when it strays from our views. We are creatures of complacency.

The hindrance that comes with our own nature is that each of us shares these characteristics. Naturally speaking, it seems that compromise and accommodation are words that could not have any meaning to them other than complete gibberish. This explains almost all the crime in the world. It explains war and divorce. It explains competition and over-indulging. Yet, somehow, happiness exists.

After hours of telling our toddlers to share, eventually, at least some of them, learn. There are successful relationships and countries at peace. There are many people who manage not to commit crimes and there are many people who can limit themselves. These people seek peace. They seek truth and instead of accepting that it denies their original ideas of the subject they accept the truth as their own. They do not conform to the norm but they place their opinions where they matter and have none where an honest fact exists.

Yearning to be right is human nature, but truculence, denying your fault with aggression, is selfish. Live in a world where opinion is needed and regarded with high esteem. Be in a world where reality comes first but creativity expands its vision. There is no need to hold each other’s hand and guide each other a certain way. When a person faces a truth they have denied, allow them to openly accept it and move on without judgment or penalty. We are creations of fault as well as pride. Don’t deny these truths. See them. Revel in them and live with an open mind. Only when we stop to seek honesty in the opinions of others can we find peace as a whole.

Study Stickies

Last night on Instagram I posted a very curious photo with the caption, “This wall must be empty by tonight.” Well, today I am telling you why. 

I am always on the look out for better study tactics. Some have been complete failures and others are remarkably helpful. As I was thinking of the day’s to-dos and writing reminders to myself on sticky notes to place around the apartment, I had an idea. It was something that would be malleable enough that anyone can personalize it. It was simple and creative. It was a system.

For every assignment I had due the next day, I wrote each one down on a separate sticky note. I thought of what regularly distracts me while studying, the television, and put my sticky notes on the wall behind it. What I created was a physical system of reminders and incentives.

As I finished an assignment, I ripped the sticky note off the wall and threw it away, physically discarding the to-do instead of just checking it off and also mentally taking one more thing away from my large workload. It was an incentive because I looked forward to taking down the next sticky note, but also I was able to put smaller notes in between each assignment with a reward on it. If I finished one assignment then I could have a sweet snack and if I finished four assignments I could watch a short show. It is an easily personalized system of incentives and goals.

Placing the notes around my distraction, which in my case is the television, helped because when I looked up, instead of seeing a blank screen that I wanted to be glowing with the newest season of New Girl, I saw my assignments and saw they were not all done and off the wall yet.

Side note, you may have noticed in the photo that my television screen was indeed not blank. Music is a great way to stay motivated while studying, but songs with words can be distracting, However, sometimes the calmer classical music makes me sleepy. It can also be very distracting if, instead of studying, you are using all of your time trying to find the best song. What you saw in the photo is one of my favorite study playlists. It is on YouTube and it is a compilation of upbeat songs with no words. Having just a long playlist like that helps me to not go scrolling through my music library and actually study. This time, I was listening to a Majestic Casual playlist called Escape Everything, A Chill Mix.

We will see how far the sticky note method takes me. For one thing, I’m not sure how many sticky notes I have and for another thing, just like anything else, it will take a little bit of effort to take this extra step to get my work done.

If you try out this method, here is to good luck and even better grades!

10 Things College Students Really Want in A Care Package

Listen folks, right now my curtains consist of newspaper and bedsheets. It’s just temporary, but it will make do for now. Come to think of it, lots of college students are just making do right now and one of the many amazing things you can do to help is send a care package. To some people this may sound stressful or unimportant. What do you put in a care package? Does it have to have meaning behind it? Is it like a gift or what? Does it really matter?

Right away I can tell you this, no your care package does not have to have any deeper meaning and no you don’t have to feel like you are buying a gift. A care package is a way to show the student in your life that you are thinking about them and want to help out a little. To the person receiving it, in many ways, it is a gift, but the things you put inside it can be simpler than you might think. Here are ten things the student you know really needs and wants in a care package.

 

  1. Toilet Paper

Simple enough, everyone uses toilet paper and chances are you buy it in bulk. Throw one roll from your stash in the bathroom cabinet and into a cardboard box and you already have an awesome care package under way. Same goes for paper towels or napkins. These paper products can be used in so many different ways and save your student from hundreds of messes and spills. Adulting (is that in the dictionary yet?) can be hard and messy.

 

  1. Gum

It has been said that if you chew the same flavor gum while you take a test that you chew while you are studying, it can help your memory and in the end help your grade. Sticking a pack of gum in your care package not only provides your student with hours of entertainment and the surprise of a new flavor, but it can help them academically. I haven’t tested the gum theory out, but I’ll let you know if I do. Right along with gum is snacks. Any kind of snack let it be gummy worms, carrots, or chocolate keeps your student from going hungry. Just make sure if the package has a long trip to make it isn’t something that will go bad.

 

  1. Pens

Pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, staples, paper… the list of office supplies you can send is endless but no matter which you pick to send it will definitely be helpful. Even if you think they might not need any more office supplies, the rate at which college students manage to use and lose their stuff is super-fast. Send more whenever and always.

 

  1. Coins

You know all that loose change you have around the house and sometimes you just want to get rid of it? Put it in a zip-lock bag and add it to the box. There are test papers students need to get that cost less than a dollar. Quick change can save a student from being unprepared for a last minute test and helps when they need a little extra cash to tip their waiter when they go out to eat. Money is always a great care package item and even a nickel can go a long way.

 

  1. Succulents

When I look around and see my little plants I’ve managed to keep alive it makes me feel pretty good. Especially students who go to college in a city, seeing some nature can help them relax. Succulents are an awesome type of plant for college students because many only need watered about once a week. At number five, you are half-way done creating a care package! Also, if all you’ve got is a small box and five items sounds good to you, go ahead and send it. Any little thing can make your students day.

 

  1. Get Crafty

Make a card or send them a CD of their favorite tracks. Making something turns your care package into something personal that your student can cherish. Even sticking in a photo of you two together can up your care package game.

 

  1. Batteries

Batteries are another item you might have around the house that can be a life saver. Television remotes, smoke detectors, and alarm clocks are just a few daily-used or important items that need batteries. More and more things just get plugged in or charged for energy, but the number of items that still need batteries can be surprising.

 

  1. Mugs

A mug can not only be used for drinks like coffee (thank goodness), but also to make soup, a one-serving brownie, microwave mac-and-cheese, or as a pencil holder. The uses for mugs are endless. They can also be cheap and super cute. Who knows, you may even have an extra around your place you can afford to send away.

 

  1. Soft Blankets

Especially in the winter, a super soft blanket is a great choice. Used for warmth, something to cuddle, and something to get cozy in during an all-nighter, blankets are great. When moving, blankets can also be used to wrap up fragile items to keep them from getting scratched or breaking. They may even end up being impromptu curtains.

 

  1. Stickers

This might sound silly to you but it is true. Students often need a way to reward themselves after a long day of studying. For some that is a cup of coffee and for others it’s dinner out. Sending the student in your life some way-to-go, smiley face, scented, or just an array of stickers is a cute way to show you are thinking about them. I told you I’d tell you some simple things didn’t I. Number ten! That’s it!

 

These are just a few ideas and there are tons more. Hopefully this will help get you started. Go pick a box and start filling it! Coming home to a care package after a three-hour test or just a boring lecture hall can incredibly brighten any student’s day.


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