Living Simply, Surviving College

Go.

Think back to the last time you explored a place for the first time. It could have been in the country, across the world, or in your own backyard. Remember the feeling and wonder you experienced as you turned every street corner, passed every stranger on the sidewalk, rode every train and walked every mile? That feeling that you only get when you’re away from your typical, mundane, everyday routine. That feeling that travel and exploration gives away for free.

As twenty-something’s, we often look for experiences that are of little to no cost to us. Money is tight and we’re on a budget, but we don’t want that to stop us from enjoying life. And it shouldn’t stop us from enjoying life. Now, we can get all philosophical and say “what is the meaning of life if it is left un-enjoyed?” and your answer could be whatever suits you. But travel, travel is one way to find yourself and lose yourself all at the same time. Travel may possibly be the greatest way to enjoy this life if you allow it. This enjoyment and wonder can happen in your own city for free if you want it to. You can stay local and allow yourself to get comfortable where you are.
There is nothing inherently wrong with localizing yourself and staying stationary if it means it is cost efficient for you. But travel, when it costs something, is never a waste of money.

And while it can easily be seen as a selfish ambition, never underestimate the people you have the chance to impact along the way. The stories that you will have the chance to share along your journey have the power to change someone’s life.

As young, impressionable human beings, we should always seek to travel. Traveling does what nothing else has the power to do to us.

Travel evokes the sense of self-awareness inside of us that contrasts who we are inside this giant world. It opens our eyes to other cultures and shows us that life does not revolve around us and that it is okay to be different.

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Drinking chai on the streets of Kolkata, India summer of 2015.

Travel, as far as it can take us, somehow gives us a feeling of closeness as a human race. We as humans are given this beautiful ability to all be so different, yet we grow up on a planet filled with billions of other humans who feel the same emotions, have their own differing opinions and deal with their own stuff just like we do. Get out there and meet those people. Explore their world.

 

Never regret buying that plane ticket or saving up for that adventure. Experience is far more valuable than anything else you could ever save up for. Having a lifetime of stories to share is so much greater than having a bunch of things to show.

So go. Don’t let excuses get in your way of getting out into the world and feeling it, seeing it, touching it and loving it. You have today and today only, so don’t waste it. It is not irresponsible to take the time to see the world, it is your calling. Soak it up, breathe it in and keep going. There is so much more out there than we could ever experience on our own inside our own little world. Don’t deny yourself the chance to live the life you imagined.
So here’s what you do today:

Write down the qualities you want to see grow in yo

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Us, exploring NYC for the first time together.

u. Write down what it would feel like to loosen your grip on your own reality and see the world through someone else’s eyes. Research places that spark something inside you. Ask yourself: “what is my mission and goal?” Where can you go and what can you do to make this world a better place by being in it, and what can you do to make the best new versio of yourself outside of your box?

 

Get rid the things that are holding you back. Save up. Pack your bag. Buy that ticket. Bring friends. Go. Just whatever you do, go. Don’t ever let fear stop you from experiencing this great big world. Don’t allow routine to stop you from becoming rich in experience. It’s all up to you.

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves, and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”

– Pico Iyer

 

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Living Simply, Surviving College

Mindfulness.

The Christmas season.

The week full of final exams.

The excessive spending.

The exhaustion.

The stress.

 

Mindfulness.

I urge you to be mindful this month.

A word that represents an action that is neglected very often in our everyday lives, but a practice we should observe religiously.

Mindfulness is a state of being that halts any further action and observes what is being exerted from your thoughts and body.

You have control over what is flowing in and out of your head, you have the power to object negative thinking and forbid overstimulation.

This post is in no way to encourage you to seek some kind of mystical enlightenment. It is a post, however, to encourage slowing down and being kind to yourself. What you put in your body is what you’ll get out of it, as they say.

Be mindful in this season of your life. Be mindful of your thoughts, actions, the way you treat others and the way you think about yourself.

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Surviving College

Healthy(ish) Fast-Food: Veganized Taco Bell

As I have explored a more simplistic and minimalistic lifestyle, I have put more thought not only into what I allow into my mind and my physical space, but I have been more thoughtful about the quality of food I put into my body.

Veganism is a topic that floats around quite often in the minimalism community, and I have done a good deal of research myself on the issue and I think it is something worth checking out.

Before I go on, I must preface this post by saying that I am not a vegan, however, I try to eat a limited amount of meat and dairy as I have realized I feel more energized and “light” when I avoid those items. This post is also not to say that Taco Bell is “healthy” because of their easy-to-order vegan options, but the fact that I can combine a meat-less, dairy-less food option with affordability makes me well-rounded happy college kid.

Let’s continue…

If you’re like me and you are interested in taking care of your health and your bank account, I highly suggest checking out Taco Bell’s certified vegetarian menu. With a few tweaks, your cheap and quick meal can be free of animal products! (And pretty good too…)


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What to order: Crunchwrap Supreme

What to tweak: Say no to sour cream or cheese and ask for beans instead of beef. You can add to this rice as well!

What to order: Tacos

What to tweak: Replace the beef with beans and remove the cheese. You can add guac and pico de gallo for extra flavor!

 

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What to order: Bean Burrito or Black Bean Burrito

What to tweak: Ask for no cheese and add potatoes and rice!

What to order: Seven Layer Burrito

What to tweak: Order it with so sour cream and cheese, add potatoes and pico de gallo!

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What to order: Taco Salad

What to tweak: Replace the beans with beef, ditch the sour cream and cheese, add potatoes, rice, guac and red sauce for a kick!

 

 

 

 

 

Hold the sour cream and cheese and give me aaaall of the deliciousness.

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Living Simply, Surviving College

Dorm Decor Ideas + a DIY

Your room is your sanctuary. Especially at college. It is where homework is done without interruption, naps are taken often and alone time is always had…in a perfect world, right?

Over my college years, I’ve shared rooms with girls who became my closest friends, and I’ve also lived in tight quarters with people who I haven’t gotten along with 100% of the time. All my experiences have led me to today. It is my senior year of college and I have been given the (absolutely wonderful) chance to live in an alternative dorm on campus that gives me the opportunity to have my own room.

Despite whether I have had to live closely in tight spaces with a best friend, a complete stranger, or on my own, I have found that when my room is clean, cozy and cute, I am the most relaxed and productive. I have also found that the way my space is decorated and organized affects my mood. There is power in owning your space–and it is not as hard as you may think!

Here are some of my best tips on making your space yours, for even the smallest of college student budgets!

1. Keep it simple.

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Neutral colors are calming and don’t overload your senses. When there is a lot going on, your brain is trying to focus on everything and then some. I recommend white bedding because of its ability to feel cool and clean. Plus, if you’re looking for a pop of color, white bedding goes with any kind of throw blanket pattern or throw pillow color.

Check out Target‘s collection of bedding for an affordable option!

 

2. Keep it affordable.

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If you are in college, you are most likely paying a whole lot for your degree, but that doesn’t mean you have to skimp out on transforming your tiny room. It’s the smallest things that make your space the coziest.

Christmas lights aren’t just for the season, they’re for making your space sparkly and magical. Get a box for under $5 and string them along your window or wall for a pretty glow that will soften up your room for the semester.

Go for the vintage-inspired globe style lighting, or for the classic Christmas light look. Both are sure to bring the perfect amount of warmth to your space without breaking the bank.

 

3. Keep it “you!”

Even though university dorms are limiting with the rules against hanging things with nails or creating holes in the walls, there are alternative ways to make your home away from home more “you!”
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Tapestries are very very trendy at the moment, but they serve a very beautiful purpose. They have the ability to add personality to a bland dorm wall with little effort (you can use thumbtacks which are approved by most university residence hall protocol. Simple tacks will do the job at keeping them in place all year long!)

And, you can almost find them anywhere!

  • $ – you can find all kinds of affordable tapestry patterns in all different colors on Amazon.com!
  • $$ – if you are willing to splurge a little,  Society6 offers a variety of unique and bold designs for a little extra cash
  • $$-$$$ – I think we can all agree that Urban Outfitters knows what they’re doing when it comes to home decor. Their tapestries do not disappoint! And, some options are pretty budget-friendly!

A Decor DIY!

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These dream-catcher-esque wall hangings add the sweetest whimsical touch to my room! Not only are they super adorable, they were insanely easy and cheap to make!

Here’s what you need to make your own:

  • Twigs
  • Twine
  • String
  • Fabric
  • Hot glue gun

First, gather three twigs around the same length (I got mine from my backyard!) then, begin connecting them together by tying a knot around both ends

Next, begin connecting them together by tying a knot around both ends and wrapping the twine around multiple times while dabbing hot glue to adhere the twigs to the twine.

After you have your twig triangle, tie string at the top of the shape and wrap loosely around the twigs.

Lastly, cut up fabric in about 2″ wide, 3′ long strips, fold in half longways and pull through loop.

Ta-da! An easy, simple, and earthy addition to your abode.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Having a cozy space doesn’t mean it has to be costly. You can easily find cute decor items at shops like TJ Maxx, Target, or Marshalls, or even go the Amazon route to achieve a dreamy dorm.

Just refer back to these tips for the sweetest space you’ll never want to leave!

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Living Simply, Surviving College

Tricks for Treats – a foodie’s guide to discounts on Halloween!

“If it’s free, it’s for me.”

You may have heard this phrase before, or may even say it yourself.

It’s true. If there is one thing that joins twentysomething’s together, it’s food–not just any kind of food–free food, or discounted food. Any type of food that we don’t have to pay full price for a full tummy.

And although we are a bit too old to go trick or treating around our neighborhoods and stash away candy for the next 6 months, there are restaurants out there that want to treat the kid in us on this holiday.

Here are some of my favorite restaurants with scary-good deals!

Chipotle: from 3pm to close, customers dressed up in their Halloween costumes will get to enjoy a $3 “boorito.” This discount applies to burritos, burrito bowls, and tacos.

Krispy Kreme: Trick-or-treaters get a free donut! No purchase necessary.

Baskin-Robins: pick one of their 31 specialty flavors for $1.31 one-scoop cones!

I hope you take advantage of these dinner and dessert options–goes to show we’ll never be too old to enjoy the benefits of this holiday.

No tricks–just treats!

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Surviving College

Sleep Survival Tips

It’s 7:00 am. Your alarm goes off. Your half awake/half asleep body musters up enough energy to open half of one eye, lift your arm and search for your phone to stop the annoying sound it’s emitting. You’re annoyed because 1. it is early, 2. that annoying sound won’t quit, and 3. it’s early.

20-year-olds are supposed to get 8 hours of sleep a night, but frankly, sometimes that feels like a nap. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how early we get to bed, waking up can be a struggle on any given morning.

In college, or if you are working a full-time job and doing real adult things, sleep can seem like a lost commodity. Life gets busy; papers need to be written, friends need to be hung out with, movies need to be watched. I get it.

If you have never heard of a sleep debt? Well, it’s a real thing. It happens when we humans don’t get the adequate rest we need and bad stuff gets trapped in our blood or something. Sleeping literally does so much to clear our body of toxins. Read up about it, it is fascinating stuff!

In order to truly maximize your time during the day, you need to first start with your sleeping habits at night. Here are some tips to get you through this week fully rested, your body clear of toxins, and your mind operating at its highest capacity!

#1: Get off your phone.

Seriously. The tweets, pointless Facebook videos, endless scrolling through Instagram memes, they can get addicting once you climb into bed, but they are butting in on precious time your body should be resting. On average, you lose almost one hour of sleep by reaching for your phone right when you lay your head on your pillow.

I suggest unplugging yourself from any form of technology 30-45 minutes before you want to be asleep to put your eyes and mind at rest from all that the interwebs have to offer.

#2: Relax your mind and body.

There are tons of ways to relax yourself before drifting off to sleep. A few of my favorite ways to relax pinpoint different areas of my life that may be causing my brain to overwork itself.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious: focus on breathing deeply and slowly, play calming instrumental music , or make a cup of chamomile tea. If your body is feeling tense or overworked, massage these specific pressure points to relieve some of the tension. One huge thing that I noticed I was doing during those nights where I couldn’t fall asleep was clenching my jaw. I read an article about how clenching my jaw was keeping my body from relaxing and falling asleep. Now if I am having a hard time falling asleep, I will check to see if I am holding tension in my jaw–most of the time I am and I don’t notice!

#3: Prepare to wake up.

This is so important! How you wake up will set the tone for your day. Set an alarm that is calming or happy–there are so many different alarm sounds to pick from on your smartphone. If you are a heavy sleeper, turn up the volume of your alarm and have it set to also vibrate while it goes off. Waking up to an obnoxious noise or annoying beep will make you wake up frustrated or freaked out when it blares. You shouldn’t wake up scared by an alarm you set for yourself. Take control over how you wake up and you’ll take control over your day!

I hope these tips help you as much as they help me! The state of mind I fall asleep and wake up with affect the way I view my day. Take care of yourself and your body will thank you.

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Surviving College

Love Listens: a live blog from church

“Sunday is the most segregated day of the week,” entrepreneur Scott Williams’ voice rings out in Bush Chapel, “what MLK spoke decades ago still stands true today.”

I look around and see many, many students crammed together under one roof for this morning’s chapel service. I take note of our differences but celebrate the fact that we are all here to hear the same word–accepting the same truth in our lives.

If you don’t like diversity, you’re not going to like heaven,” Williams laughs, as the hundreds of us laugh along while nodding in agreement with him.

Breaking Barriers

Today, on a Tuesday morning at 9am, I attended the first Athletic Chapel at my university. I go to a Christian university where we are dedicated to making space for all types of people doing all kinds of things on and for our school, and today was the first chapel of the year for athletes and students to join together to learn something from every team on campus.

I’m not an athlete; I don’t understand sports talk. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if there was much I could learn from a service dedicated to athletes. But I do understand the few things we have in common and try to relate to those things.

Like the fact that just being a student in college is difficult at times. The tests, the homework, the projects, and presentations; trying to balance social life with a decent GPA. It gets tiring. Sometimes I wonder if I will survive. But it wasn’t until our campus pastor got up on stage and laid out what student athletes endure every semester until I realized I know nothing about their struggle.

“The 6am practices, the ice baths, lifting weights and physical therapy,” the campus pastor says to the crowd of students gathered together, “on top of studying for exams, taking quizzes, writing papers, attending class. Blood, sweat and tears shed and–most of the time only God is watching you.”

It struck me. I am sitting in a room full of hundreds of athletes who attend class and write papers just like I do, yet who also face a whole different struggle that I will never know.

Sometimes in our struggle, we are only seen by God.

“The things you do in secret are the most effective for the kingdom,” says one bright student athlete while sharing her devotions for offering this morning. She encouraged the athletes and non-athletes alike to seek God and do what we know is good and noble–even when no one is looking.

Even when no one is looking.

Sometimes it’s me who’s not looking while my neighbor struggles.

My responsibility and calling as a follower of Christ is to follow the great commandment, to love God with all my heart and the great commission, to love my neighbor as myself and make disciples from every nation.

“It is the great commission, not the great omission where we go out and make disciples and omit the part where it says ‘from all nations.'” Scott Williams

“How are you adding to the solution?” says Williams, “how are you going out of your way to listen to your neighbor?”

Despite what we are going through personally, love should seek first to listen before it is ever heard.

We should all be working towards the common good–even if it’s not the same cause. As Christians and fellow brothers and sisters, we are all working together to move the ball down the field for the better of our neighbor, our country, and the world.

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