Sense Story Perception

Sense Story Perception

Happy New Year, all!  I just realized that this is my first post of the new year.

I wanted to share this new project I am part of, called Sense Story Perception.  It is a blog about our five senses (see, touch, taste, smell, hear) and how we (our five awesome writers) use them to better understand ourselves and the world around us.  It’s just getting started, and we hope you enjoy it!

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Meaning in Money

Last week in my pop culture class, we watched a documentary about production workers in China who made bead necklaces for Mardi Gras. It was called Mardi Gras: Made in China.

Basically, it exposed the working conditions of Chinese factory workers and their stories. Girls who did not get an education but instead go to find work in factories to send money back home to their families. Color-dyed hands and arms, burnt fingers, and other work-related injuries. Fast-paced and of high expectations in production, the work that is done to make Mardi Gras beads goes unnoticed.

The filmmaker would ask people at Mardi Gras where the beads come from, and most of them don’t know, but that is hardly the problem. The problem is that we–America as a whole–live in a culture where we spend money on and buy things that we use for a significantly short period of time. Meanwhile, workers in China work fifteen hour days of manual labor to make the Mardi Gras beads that get left behind on the streets of New Orleans every year, easily wasted and trashed.

They make $62 per month, doing the same thing every single day, 6 days a week, and get just a few days a year off to go home and see their families. During the film, my professor said that the factory reminds him of prison camps–small sleeping quarters, lines and formations, strict rules, silence.

At the end of the film, I made a decision to be even more conscious of my spending habits.

Let the things you buy mean something to you for more than a short moment. Let it last.

Don’t buy Mardi Gras beads to wear for the night, and then throw them away. Buy something that will last a little longer.

When the factory workers saw that people in America got beads by taking their tops off at Mardi Gras, they were mortified. They had no idea that that is what their full-time work boils down to: drunk people throwing beads at each other.

So next time–actually, every time–you make a purchase, ask yourself where this product/service came from. Ask yourself if it is meaningful and most importantly, how long it will be meaningful for.

I’m already a conscious consumer. I reuse until I can’t reuse anymore. I rarely purchase water bottles or one-time use products. But after seeing this documentary, I’m an even stronger believer in a conscious consumer culture. We need to be smarter about money. Save some, share some.

Undress the Stress: Day 25 & 26

Let me start by dictating what my schedule looks like every Thursday.

I wake up at 7:30 to stretch/meditate and get ready for the day.
I leave my room at 8:50 to eat breakfast before my class from 9:35-11.
From 11-12:45 sometimes I have a campus tour to give, sometimes I do work in the computer lab, and other times I have meetings.
From 12:45 – 3:45 I have class.
At 3:45 I have ONE hour to do as I please (usually nap).
At around 5ish I print out the reading material for my night class and sit down for dinner while reading them.
Then I have class from 6:30-9:30 pm.
After 9:30, all I want is either a drink or my bed.  Sometimes both.

As you can imagine, Thursdays are very stressful (if not, very busy) for me.  Day 25 seemed to be an exception of sorts.

Every day starts out amazing because I sincerely love waking up.  Sure, some days are harder than others but no matter what I always appreciate the chance to live another day.  This past Thursday was also America Recycles Day!  Which made me super happy and warm inside.  ALSO Augustana (one of my favorite favorite bands ever) announced an acoustic U.S. tour in January.  Crossing my fingers that I’ll still be stateside when that happens!

I guess the most stressful moments of the day were the last few hours in night class.  I was just so exhausted and restless that I could not pay attention or wait any longer to get out of there.  9:30 on a Thursday night is just torture.

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Today (Day 26) was also pretty lax.  I woke up, did some work for my internship, and then worked at a fundraising table for an organization I’m part of called the Midnight Run.  It was very successful, I think we made a good amount of money today!

I paid yet another visit to the financial aid office today to make a payment and of course the advisor that I needed to meet with was not there.  HOW CONVENIENT.  After this, I tried to make the payment online and discovered that IT services is conducting maintenance all weekend.  Dare I say again…HOW CONVENIENT.  This was the conversation that followed:

My mother is amazing.  I should make her write a guest blog post on here…

And here’s an extra reminder that laughing about things keeps us healthy.

There it is friends.  Just be positive and as a result, the stress will realize you are no easy target.  I would hope that you are all learning the same thing that I am from these stressful blogs of mine.

Undress the Stress: Day 2

Day 2 was less stressful than Day 1, just like I thought it would be.  Perhaps it was my attitude that had to do with it too.

  • Midterm! I had a midterm today so I suppose that added extra stress.  What’s weird is that I felt prepared and I knew what to expect from the test, but I kept underestimating how much I knew, and that got me nervous and unsure.  After the test, I realized that I was right and that I had absolutely nothing to worry about because I aced it.
  • Study abroad.  So there’s this form that needs to be completed by my Financial Aid Advisor, but she can’t fill it out until my program (API) sends me an official invoice with the cost breakdown of the program.  Yesterday API said they would e-mail it to me today.  Today API said they would e-mail it to me by the end of the week.  The deadline is SOON and I need that e-mail! So naturally I was very irritated.  But I got over that quickly because like I learned from yesterday–totally out of my hands.
  • A more personal stress also arose today.  Lately I just feel distant.  And that word makes sense in discussion of a long-distance relationship.  All I wanted to do was express that, but somehow it turned into an argument, still unresolved.  Which also stresses me out because I don’t want to go to sleep upset.  There’s no one to blame here but miscommunication, and a little lack of.  But I took a breath, and allowed my dreams to consume me.

Since I would never want to end any of these entries with a negative note, there were lots of good things that happened today.  I finally finished one of the forms and handed it in at the study abroad office.  It felt AMAZING considering I started the process for that form in September.

Learned yet another lesson today.  I think that it would help not just me but everyone, to start looking at things in retrospect.  Take for example the way I stressed out about my midterm.  I knew I was prepared and I knew that I shouldn’t be worried but for some reason I still was.  Well, if I looked at that situation in the way that I look at it now, I don’t think I would have been as stressed.

To look at things with a retrospective attitude would change everything.  Because in the end, everything is fine.  If, instead of expecting the worst in moments, knowing that once the moment passes, it’s over.  That way, there would be less reason to worry and stress.  Imagine how much stress from anticipation we could relieve if we only looked at the situation with a different perspective.  Sounds like a good plan to me.

And just to end on the most positive note I can think of, here are two inspiring quotes e-mailed to me this morning:

AND a picture of this morning’s sunrise:

Undress the Stress: Day 1

Today was the first day of my 6-week Stress Management class.  I think it’s weird that I’m taking a Stress Management class because I am probably in the top percentile of least stressed people in the world.  But I guess since stress never really goes away, you can never be too good at managing it.  Am I right or am I right?

Class discussion today was basically an introduction to the course and the professor.  Both seem pretty great so far.  The first and most obvious question she proposed was: What is stress?

The concluding definition we came to was something like “pressure caused by various responsibilities and outside sources that can cause unwanted physical and mental effects.”  I was actually surprised to hear some of the physical and health effects of stress, from TMJ and ulcers, to cancer and in the most severe cases, death.  I’m still finding it hard to believe how directly stress can affect us physically and mentally.

Another point made today is that the physical and the mental are the same.  Your outlook on life, and the way you handle your various stresses, will carry through to the physical aspect.  Being calm and positive makes you less prone to the physical damage that stress can bring.  And in that respect, the physical and the mental really are one.  More specifically, that “one” is you.

I can’t wait to learn from this class.  We’re going to learn meditation techniques, which I’m really looking forward to so that I can enhance my daily morning meditation/stretching routine.  We are going to learn about confrontation and how to have effective, useful confrontations.  Generally, I think we’re going to be learning about how to be more positive about life, something I think everyone could be a little better at.  I hope to share a lot of these lessons with you guys.  Just trying to share the wealth.

Last but not least.  We were asked to keep a nightly journal of the stress we feel in our daily lives; where it comes from, how it makes us feel, the way we chose to deal with it, etc.  I considered being the average college student and not doing this journal until the week before it’s due, but then I realized that I really want to learn something about myself.

The purpose of this journal is to keep record of daily happenings, in hopes that at the end of the 6 weeks, I can pinpoint the cause of stress in my life.  Maybe I’m the reason I’m stressed out.  Maybe there’s a person in my life that is sending me negative energy.  Maybe I’m not even stressed out.

Hopefully I will find a pattern of negativity, or the source of all this unnecessary stress.  And so I guess I’m choosing to publicly keep this stress journal (it shall be an angry one I’m sure) because I want to keep it honest and real so that the results are best.  Here goes.

Day 1.

  • Study abroad paperwork.  I woke up to not one, not two, but THREE e-mails from API Study Abroad about my financial information, billing statement, and post-acceptance paperwork.  It was a whole lot of reading, a whole lot of money to deal with, and about fifteen documents to read, print, sign, fill out, e-mail, etc.  I filled out as many papers as I could at the time and got several done, so I felt accomplished, but since none of that was on my agenda today I felt like I wasted a lot of time that I needed for other responsibilities.
  • Internship.  I woke up early to get work done for my internship, but after seeing those e-mails from API I kind of put the work on hold for an hour or two because it stressed me out that there was so much paperwork to deal with.
  • Study abroad form.  This is another document I’ve been dealing with for too long now.  It’s been passed around to offices all over campus since the beginning of September and is still not completed.  What stressed me out about this is how time consuming it is to need several people’s signatures, who are not always available.  It stressed me out that this paper was signed by the wrong people, and A LOT of miscommunication went on in the process of completing it.  I shed a few tears because I was extremely overwhelmed by every person I went to sending me to someone else.  It was endless.  Then I took a deep breath, made a list, and started one by one.
  • Lack of sleep.  I feel a lot of stress from lacking sleep.  And I haven’t really dealt with this one yet because I guess the only solution is sleep and I have yet to have any.  A temporary and horrible solution I’ve come up with is coffee.

Today was not a good start.  Normally I would have one or two minor causes of stress a day, not three major ones.  I guess right now it’s because I’m dealing with deadlines for this study abroad program, and it’s much harder because a lot of people are involved.

I have to say that I already learned something about myself, and what I need to do about it.  Most of the stress I felt today was caused by outside sources that I have no control over.  If this continues, I would think that I need to be more patient especially because dealing with this paperwork needs patience.  My need to get things done as soon as possible makes it hard for me to sit around and wait for others to pick up the pace.

Here’s one way of dealing with stress:

I wouldn’t recommend it as a permanent solution, but today I think I deserved it.