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Articles by Emily Rutherford

Finals, Stress and Art

Art
When I walk around campus during midterms and finals seasons, especially in spring quarter when we’re all antsy to join our semester-school friends on summer break, anxiety fills the empty spaces. And it’s my own anxiety too. So, this time I decided to utilize my biggest de-stressors - art, and spreading positivity and hope around to other students.

In times between classes or at work, I made little reminders to keep going, and have been leaving them around the 
Art
Lincoln Park ​and Loop campuses. I also left my Instagram name on the back of them, and a lot of the students that found them have reached out to me expressing how it made their day, and they just needed a reminder, even anonymously, that they’re not alone. 

Art

Doing a random act of kindness for someone else made me smile and lessened my anxiety, even if just for a moment. So if you’re feeling stressed, join in on spreading around the positivity, because we’re all in this together.
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Wellness at The Ray

There are few college students today who don’t describe their state as being “stressed out” a lot of the time, especially as DePaul students are wrapping up midterms this week. With this in mind, I wanted to seek out ways the university was helping to combat this problem.

The Ray
Sarah Hardin, Associate Director of Wellness Services and Initiatives at The Ray is part of this initiative in reducing stress. 

Wellness Services focus on the wellness wheel, which includes physical wellness, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, social, intellectual, and financial. DePaul’s goal is to offer resources for all of these, she said.

Each quarter, The Ray Meyer Fitness Center, known to students as The Ray, offers a variety of wellness workshops to go along with different types of wellness. 

This quarter, workshops have included “Eating Healthy on Campus,” “Fuel for your Workout,” a running efficiency clinic, and coming up Thursday May 11, a wellness walk and expo entailing a 1.5 mile walk around campus, raffles, prizes, and information about campus and local wellness resources​

Additionally, every quarter the week before finals, The Ray teams up with other services on campus to provide Brain Fuel Week. During this time, a variety of relaxing events are available for students, like coloring books and massage chairs in the library, make your own aromatherapy bottles, and a “DeStress Through Mindfulness” workshop on June 1.

Wellness
“The Ray is the big resource for stress relief. We are the alternative to stress,” Harding said. She also emphasized that other activities are available at the gym aside from working out, like intramural sports, a variety of fitness classes, DIY arts and crafts workshops to stimulate creativity, and a weekly midweek meditation class.

The midweek meditation is put on by the Office of Religious Diversity every Wednesday at 12:30, and is an opportunity to “take a time out, relax, and focus in on what is important to reduce stress,” she said. “You don't have to love physical activity to come here.”

A lot of individual resources are available on campus as well, like the University Counseling Services. They have a number of counselors available that target different areas, and offer different support groups, like a women’s group, and an anxiety and depression support group.

If you or someone you know is dealing with stress or other psychological distress, reach out the counseling services, or attend one The Ray’s many stress-reduction and wellness workshops. 

A Day in Lincoln Park

On Saturday I took my sister and her friend from out of town here, and we spent the afternoon walking around Lincoln Park. My sister wanted to show her some of our favorite places, so after going to Kibbitznest and playing scrabble, eating chocolate croissants, and doing art, we walked through DePaul’s campus to the infamous parking garage where you see the whole skyline. It’s known because it used to have “the city is yours” spray painted on the top, but that since has been covered up.

Kibbitznest
After we walked through Oz Park, and made our way to Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, a tapas restaurant that has been there since my mom lived in Lincoln Park in her twenties. It was a beautiful atmosphere and beautiful night. It made me appreciate just how many things there are to do within walking distance from campus.

If there had been more time/if it was open, my number 1 favorite place in Lincoln Park is the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool right next to the Lincoln Park Zoo. You walk in and feel like you’re in a whole new world covered with flowers and stones and water and birds – every color is so bright. My favorite thing to do sophomore year was go on a run to there and then sit with a book or journal and enjoy the beautiful view.

Why I Chose DePaul

DePaul
I chose DePaul because of their film program.

Because of internship and job opportunities in the future.

Because it was close to home but not too close that I’d be there all the time.

I chose DePaul because I went to school in Canada my freshman year and desperately missed the city.

Because it’s a diverse school and I wanted to get away from the same-ness of my hometown and high school.

Because I desperately wanted to fast forward to the life phase where you live in the city with all your good friends above a coffee shop and skip work to sit on a big orange couch all day, and this was the next best things to living the “Friends” life.

I chose DePaul because it mixed city school life (Loop campus) with college campus feel (Lincoln Park).

Because if you’re a film major you take classes at Cinespace.

Because they had an LA program where you spent a quarter out there with an internship and taking classes (too bad I switched majors to Journalism halfway through my college career).

Because they have a large number of transfer students each year so I knew I’d feel welcomed.

Because they easily transferred my credits, even though they were coming from another country and being changed from the semester system to the quarter system (I mean how awesome is that?!)

Because they have a number of housing options, from dorms to on-campus apartments to 1237 West.

I chose DePaul because I never want to leave this city.

Reasons Why Working on Campus Is the Best

NSEW
As I’ve talked about before, I work at the front desk of the College of Computing and Digital Media in their advising office. I’ve had this job for over two years now, and I love it. I get to interact with so many students that come in, the advisors are great to work with and willingly answer all of my questions, and I couldn’t ask for a better boss. These past two years I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs with unpredictable health issues/medical withdrawals, and she lets me back with open arms every single time. It’s incredible.

Once a quarter we have a student worker meeting, usually on a Friday afternoon, to discuss how things are going, changes we should make, etc., but when I walked into last Friday’s meeting, we were showered with gratitude, posters with our pictures on it, spirit animals, and lots of treats. Last week was National Student Employment Week ​and to celebrate, they gave each of the five student workers a basket filled with contributions from each of them. Mine was filled with baked goods, fun socks, art supplies (because I’m often found drawing and painting at the front desk/making everyone art), and so many nice words. They brought in snacks and brownie sundaes and we all hung around (and, here’s the icing on the cake: got paid to do so!)  

NSEW
I’ve had a number of jobs and also have friends who work on campus either at DePaul or at other colleges, and I’ve never appreciated one this much or found someone to describe an equivalent position in the same way I’d describe working here. I can recall so many days at jobs I’ve had in the past where I woke up dreading coming in or had stress dreams about work, woke up thinking my shift was over, only to realize that was fictional and I still had to get up and go. If that’s ever happened to you, it’s the worst.

Logistically, the perk of the schedule changing every quarter to line up with our changing class schedule has relieved so much anxiety, and somehow always works out. Since we’re all in positions of having weird availability around class times, I’ve had days where I only work for two hours at the end of the day, days where I work the entire shift, and days when I come in, leave for two hours to go to class, and then come back. 
NSEW

And, let’s be real, any job where you can also do homework during the downtime is a huge advantage to maintain a positive work, school, and life balance. In fact, I’m writing this article from there right now! 

I found both of these jobs on the Campus Job Board, and if you haven’t already been on there, I highly recommend checking it out!
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Applying to Internships

It’s internship application season!!! The best time of year!!! I spent some of my spring break sending out applications and emails. It wasn’t until last night as I was trying to fall asleep that I fully panicked about how behind I am, how I’m not qualified enough, how it’s not even worth applying, how people will judge me for not getting an internship, literally the list of self-deprecating statements went on and on until I finally told myself “Emily, it’s 1am, you can’t do anything about it now, splash cold water on your face to calm down and go to bed!”

Applying
Luckily today I had extra time at work to go all out on internship apps, and found out some really helpful stuff along the way. This goes especially for journalism/writing students, but works for everyone! Here are my top 3 tips

1. Handshake - DePaul has given you access to a site called Handshake where employers post job and internship openings. There are literally thousands, and you can apply straight from there. I hadn’t set up my site before (because let’s be real, I was far too lazy), but it works similarly to LinkedIn where your profile has your education, skills, and work experience, so employers can view that! You can also upload your resume and cover letters to be saved on there, so all I had to do was click on my already uploaded resume, write a cover letter for the specific job, and hit apply! 

a. With that comes the reminder that sometimes your resume needs to be shifted around/changed depending on the target audience! Same obviously goes for cover letters, and that’s why you should ALWAYS write a new one for each application!

2. Have a website, blog, or link you can provide of additional writing samples. My work that’s been published is all over the place - the school newspaper, on here, random blogs that published it, but I’m creating a blog right now for one of my classes that I’m going to start using professionally, and I also have a lot of the articles I’ve written published on a medium.com account. If you’re interested in a writing position, chances are they’re going to request some writing, so have it all organized! The same goes for photography, graphic design, film, etc. Better yet, start creating your own website now where you can have all of these things in one, because if you’re like me, I produce work on all sorts of mediums, from film to art to written articles!
Quotes

Main idea: just write! The more work you have to showcase the better, and the more choices you’ll have to pick from when trying to display your best work! It’s also just great practice :)

3. Check out the Career Center! DePaul’s Career Center has employees who can do anything from looking over your resume or reel, to helping you prepare for an interview! You can go in and meet with a career advisor, or just go on their website where they give examples of resumes and cover letters.

Oh and I’m sneaking in a 4th: take breaks. When I get anxious about getting something done I get in crazy anxiety mode and don’t realize how much time has gone by. Eat lunch. Eat snacks. Check Instagram. Take a walk. Anything to put your brain on pause for a minute and refuel it :) Happy applying!

Spring Break

​The start of a new quarter often goes two ways: it’s either a refreshing new start, or it’s a mix of chaos, frustration, and tears. This quarter I’m hoping for the first one, and so far we’re on the right track (knock on wood).

Art
While it’s not as refreshing as coming back from summer or winter break, spring break is a much needed pause in the academic work. My whole life I grew up going somewhere on vacation, and I always returned to school refreshed (and usually severely burnt) from the island sun. This year, however, my break was a little different. Rather than jetting off to the beach, I stayed home.

For the first few days I was totally bummed at how the week felt like any other week - I still worked at my on-campus job, and was actually working a few more hours than usual, and still found myself commuting around the city all day to doctor’s appointments, and when I finally got home at the end of the day, I was just as exhausted as if I had spent the whole day in class. In fact, I even had homework to do because I wanted to finish up the work I had left in a class I took an incomplete in. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a break.

Coffee
However, as the end of the week approached, I was much more mindful of this. I was aware that school actually only took up a small portion of my time compared to dealing with health problems and working. Unfortunately, there’s no spring break from your illnesses, and that was something that hit hard last week.
   
When the weekend hit, I had my thoughts more sorted out. I had finished the work for my class and don’t work on the weekends, so spent Saturday doing art in a bookstore with a friend all afternoon, and spent Sunday with my mom getting manicures, shopping, and cooking dinner together. I was finally able to get that much needed break.

Surviving a Stress-Free Finals Week

The most dreaded time of year is upon us, and we’re getting ready to pull the all-nighters to study for finals. This finals week I’m trying to make my habits and routine look a bit different in an effort to decrease stress and sleep deprivation, so I’m going to share my tips!

1. I’ve been living at my yoga studio this week. It’s been the perfect way to clear my mind of the essays I still have to write and connect with my body and mind. If you don’t have a yoga studio you go to, The Ray also offers classes multiple times a week, so hit those up! Even if you’ve never done yoga before, I started my practice going to those classes, they’re great for beginners!

Finals Week
2. Doing something positive for others always puts me in a better mood. Last weekend I was stressed out studying at a coffee shop with my friend, and we took a break to spread some positivity in the city, which made us feel SO happy after. We literally couldn’t stop smiling. We decided to take an all-time favorite book of mine, 300 Things I Hope by Iain Thomas, and wrote the different hopeful statements on post-it notes, then we put them all up on a wall in the Jackson red line train station spelling out HOPE. It was so fun and so many people stopped by asking what we were doing and looking at them, adding to it, taking a hopeful statement, etc. Sometimes it’s the little things, and for me, seeing someone else see our message and smile makes me smile!

3. Get out of your house. I usually don’t end up getting much work done when I have “study parties” with friends, but I also find that staying in my house leaves me anxious and distracted. I’ve been spending my Saturdays and Sundays at the Starbucks near my house, and it’s been SO helpful. I bring all my stuff, order a venti Strawberry Acai refresher (light ice - gotta get my money’s worth), and power through my work. That environment of having some background noise has been really helpful for me!

4. Two words: Google Docs. Ever since I wrote an essay late one night in the fall and then my computer froze and lost it all, I’ve been writing everything (including this article!) on Google Docs. It’s come in handy especially during finals week when I can access the study guides I’ve typed up or the article I started writing from any computer. I hate lugging my computer around, and now I can still get work done in the hour break between my classes at the computers at Brownstones, or right now, while I’m at work in the CDM building!

I hope some of these are helpful tips during your finals week! Happy studying!

NEDA

This week is dedicated to a cause near and dear to my heart: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. As a psych minor and person in recovery, I’ve learned a lot about this illness in and out of the classroom, and especially their prevalence on college campuses.

So, I want to use this week to talk about DePaul’s resources and also what the school has been doing in honor of spreading awareness!

DePaul’s own counseling services (UCS) is made up of a team of psychologists, psychiatrists, externs and an urgent care specialist. In addition to one-on-one counseling, they offer a few group therapies, like an anxiety and depression group, a relationship group, and a women's group.

Additionally, the campus gym, The Ray, has classes dedicated to promoting self-care and mindfulness, like their weekly meditation every Wednesday from 12:30-1pm, and the multiple yoga classes they offer each week.

Specifically this week, DePaul showed their care by holding a Love Your Body Yoga class Tuesday, February 28th at The Ray, and right now the student center has pieces of paper taped to the walls with positive encouragements about self-love (picture below).

NEDA
NEDA week is a super important time to show love for yourselves and your peers in honor of the disorder with the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. It’s one that comes with a lot of stigma, misunderstandings, and lack of treatment, and that’s exactly why this week happens!

The store Aerie also showed a lot of support, selling shirts that said “strong beautiful me” that went to supporting NEDA.

If you or someone you know needs support, check out DePaul’s resources, or take this screening online.

Happy NEDA week! :)

We Are DePaul Blue

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing a new student campaign called We Are DePaul Blue. They launched as part of a Public Relations Campaign class, where they’re part of a national competition where schools are teamed with a national non-profit client.

This year, they were assigned Campaign to Change Direction, whose philosophy is, “If everyone is more open and honest about mental health, we can prevent pain and suffering, and those in need will get the help they deserve”. 

Students Mia Hinkebein, Kate Hohenstatt, Alexa Ohm, and Meghan Thesing are working behind this project.

“Their mission is essentially what we’re localizing to DePaul, so it’s about mental health, self-care, and most importantly for them, knowing the five signs of emotional suffering,” Alexa said.

These five signs are:
1. feeling hopeless
2. poor self-care
3. feeling agitated
4. feeling withdrawn
5. personality changes

We Are DePaul Blue is aiming to teach these five signs to the DePaul community.

“Their big thing with the five signs is that we have to start with a common language in order to normalize it,” Mia said. 

Thus, the four girls are encouraging individuals and groups to take the pledge to learn them and are also presenting them to student organizations on campus. They want to start talking about it, because the only way to combat a stigma is to bring a voice to it.

“A big component of our campaign is the friend aspect because people are more likely to reach out to a friend to talk about their mental health than go into a counselor, so it is just building that community on campus,” Kate said.

 
Events
Here is a list of their upcoming events - stop on by or follow their social media accounts to learn more! 
Since their launch mid-February, they have received a lot of positive feedback from students, and hope to turn this into a student organization at DePaul in the future. 

We Are DePaul Blue’s launch also comes at a fitting time with finals just around the corner. They recently had a “Decompress Your Stress” event, as well as “Positivity Pop Up” where post-it notes with positive sayings were put up on campus for students to take. 

In addition, a lot of events are coming up to encourage self-care and positive well-being before the quarter comes to a close, such as a self-care workshop on February 28 and a mindfulness meditation on March 8. 

“Even if the people coming to our events are people who are having a great day that day and just want to try this, they have a network of people who at one point are probably going to need them to know what these five signs are or know what that self-care tip is to help them,” Alexa said.

To get involved with We Are DePaul Blue, take the pledge to learn the five signs, attend their events, follow them on social media, and use #WeAreDePaulBlue. 

They also encourage you to share your story​ and talk about mental health more often to help combat the stigma and normalize the topic.

Dos and Don’ts of Journalism

On Tuesday in my News Reporting class, my professor brought in a panel of speakers to talk about the field, their careers, and what to do and not to do.

One of the panelists, Jen Sabella, who is the deputy editor and director of social media at DNAinfo, kicked off the panel saying her number one goal is to make any story, no matter how boring of a topic, into an interesting piece.

She expanded on her advice to reporters, which is to never stop asking questions. As an editor she said that the best reporters ask as many questions as possible, and if they do miss something, they always have the follow-up contact information available. In regards to pitching, she emphasized that you have to know your audience and know the style of the company you’re pitching to. “Do your homework. See what the site publishes. Lurk through the navigation,” she said.
Journalism
Here is a picture of the panel; photo by Evan Moore (my professor)

Another panelist, Julie DiCaro, a freelance writer and 670 the Score anchor, talked about how social media was her saving grace. “If you want to be a journalist, just start writing. If you want to be in radio, start a podcast. If you want to be in TV, start a YouTube channel” she said.

After being a lawyer for 15 years, DiCaro broke into journalism after blogging for years and building up a following on social media. “One of the best things law school ever did for me was teach me how to build a case because that’s exactly what you have to do [in this field]. People will come at you at social media about everything you say”

Alongside Sabella and DiCaro were Kathy Chaney, Ebony Print Managing Editor, Bettina Chang, Chicago Magazine web editor and cofounder of the nonprofit organization City Bureau, Investigative Reporter Maria Zamudio, and Andrea Watson, neighborhood reporter at DNAinfo.

Each panelist brought a unique and informative perspective to the table, and the remaining time was filled up discussing boundaries on social media, fact checking, interview skills, internships, and building connections. I learned so much!

One of the most memorable quotes was “Generosity is currency. You share other people's work and they share yours...helping people that way will help you 1000 fold. Stay in touch with your classmates, even if it’s just on twitter. Lean on each other and rely on each other,” Julie said.

Parking in Chicago

​As a commuter student, I’ve found this quarter to be especially difficult since my schedule isn’t the most helpful for when I’m in Lincoln Park vs. The Loop.

A lot of times I find myself driving in more often than not, so here are the two greatest apps

1. SpotHero App. Download it. Now. It’ll change your life I promise!!! You put in your location and time you’ll be parking and it shows you all the parking garages near there. AND, best of all, IT’S INSANELY CHEAP. A lot of the time I park for $13 on Adams and Wabash. Now that’s a deal. In fact, my car is there right now :)

They also regularly will extend your time for free as well! There’s a garage on Rush and Ohio that I park in multiple times a week for $10 for the day!

Parking
2. ParkChicago App. This one’s for street parking in the city, and once again, it’s so much easier than going to the little boxes and pushing the $ signs for how long you’ll need to park. Instead, you can do it right from your car, and extend it whenever you need! The other day I was in class in Lincoln Park and as I was leaving class decided to go straight to the gym, so just whipped out my phone and extended my parking for a bit instead having to go back and move my car

So, next time you’re driving into the city or to the Lincoln Park campus, check out these two great apps, they literally have saved my life (and my paycheck)!

History of TV

In my history of TV and Radio class the other week, we had to write an essay interviewing someone over 50 and under 25 about their TV watching habits growing up. It seemed like fitting timing also with the Oscars coming up at the end of the month (and the fact that my friend and I discovered a Spotify playlist called “Lizzie McGuire Comes On At 4pm” and it’s life changing.

SO, with those two things in mind, I thought I’d share my finding on interviewing my mom (born in the early 1960s), and my younger sister to compare their TV watching habits and show the contrast of the millennials.

For starters, my mom talked about how watching TV was a family event. She said that certain movies were on once a year around the same time so annually her and my grandparents and uncle would watch the Wizard of Oz when it came on.

That literally blew my mind when you compared it to my sister saying she remembers watching Full House and Lizzie McGuire before bed with me, and then starting talking about Shonda Rhimes “TGIT” lineup, saying “I’ve never watched it then though I always record it and watch it on the weekends because I HATE COMMERCIALS but I liked having Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal back to back.”

History of Television
Later on I asked my mom about “guilty pleasure” shows, and she said they were nothing like they were today, because shows were pretty innocent. Her “guilty pleasure” was watching M.A.S.H in high school.

My sister on the other hand went on about how when she was younger she loved watching SpongeBob every morning, and in high school she secretly was obsessed with (of course) Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Obviously TV has come a long way since the 1960s and 1970s, but the shift into it being a very isolating ‘in my room alone watching Netflix’ experience is what really caught my eye and I think shows the greatest shift from the family time it was back then. Next time you catch yourself isolating in your room watching endless hours of 30 Rock (or whatever show you never get sick of!) just be mindful of that!

Leave Lady Gaga Alone

If you’ve read my blogs so far, you’ll know I’m a big self-acceptance advocate. I think body image is talked about way too much, and almost always it’s in a negative light. 

After the Super Bowl this weekend, my social media feeds were blown up, but not with anything about football. Not even with anything about Lady Gaga​’s performance. But rather, body shaming her. There were tweets sent out about how distracted people were by looking at her stomach, and that she needed to hit the gym. 

Lady Gaga
As a college student, so many people I know, myself included, struggle with their bodies and hey, guess what? EVERYONE has rolls on their stomach. It’s literally impossible not to. It’s really discouraging to see how Lady Gaga is treated because of her body, especially after she has been so public about struggling with eating disorders in her past. This is the exact type of treatment that fuels eating disorders, fuels negative self-talk, and thoughts of not being good enough.
 
Project Heal wrote a great blog post about this that you should definitely all read here!

It’s blogs and people like the ones at Project Heal who have been coming back at all this Lady Gaga body hate and making me feel a little bit better. A relatively unknown social media community is the BOPO, or body positive community, and they are all about embracing their bodies as they are.

Aerie is a part of this community, as they don’t brush up or photoshop any of their models, and hire models of all shapes and sizes. Iskra Lawrence is one of them and has been extremely influential on me, and I was lucky enough to hear her speak at the 2016 Chicago NEDA walk.

So, my fellow college students, don’t fall into the traps of the body shamers and haters and people who spend their days purposely seeking out people to destroy. Engage in the BOPO community, the people full of acceptance and self-love, not denial and self-hate, because truly everyBODY is beautiful. Lady Gaga, you’re beautiful.


Adventures on the South Side

As a journalism major, I often have to write articles or report on topics that don’t necessarily grab my attention, but are a class requirement so have to get done. In a journalism class I’m in right now, my professor is very focused on informing us about things going on all around the city, not just in the few neighborhoods we frequently visit or ones that gather breaking news. 

The current assignment we’re doing to cultivate this is a 77 challenge, where we were each assigned one of the 77 community areas in Chicago and have to go explore that neighborhood and then write an article about it. Mine was the South Shore.

Coming from the northern suburbs, I spend most of my time up there, and rarely venture past the Jackson red line stop. Thus, I had little clue about where the South Shore was, what went on there, or the demographic of the people residing there.

From my research, I quickly learned this is where Michelle Obama is from, it’s located along the lake (hence the name) just south of the University of Chicago, and is where Tiger Woods is building a brand new golf course in hopes of hosting future PGA Tour ​events. This is something that is super timely and current, as town meetings and discussions have been happening all month about it.

As I’m not an avid golf player or follower, I had absolutely no idea any of this was going on, when in reality it’s a pretty big construction. And, I found all this out by simply googling “South Shore Chicago” and clicking the “news” tab. 

Now I’m not saying you should google all 77 neighborhoods and find out random facts about each, but what I am saying is that a lot goes on in such a big city, and it doesn’t hurt to venture outside of your normal comfort zone every once in a while, or even just look up news about some new places in the city, because there’s always something to follow up on!

Yoga in the Air

One of the many great things about living in the city is that there’s literally always somewhere new to go – whether it’s a new restaurant to eat at, clothing store to shop at, or coffee shop to study at. This weekend, I checked another new spot off my list after taking a class at Air Fitness in Lincoln Park.

My friend and I found it because we had wanted to try an aerial yoga class, and this studio offered them. Instead of signing up for the yoga class though we decided to do the “Air Foundation” class first as an introduction to it all. We both went into the class Saturday morning expecting to have a laid back time flipping upside down and doing yoga in the air, but little did we know that “Air Foundation” is not a yoga class, but rather still a full-on workout class. We did upside crunches while hanging in the air, floating planks, burpees, and a whole lot of other cardio for an hour. We also learned flipping upside down in the air isn't as graceful and fun as it looks, but the swing you’re in actually really hurts your back and it’s uncomfortable. 
 
Yoga
Here’s a picture of me and my friend Marley post-yoga :)
But, despite it being quite the unexpected experience, we left laughing and sweating and took pictures at the end (because of course we needed proof). We may never attend this foundation class again, but we definitely want to give the real Air Yoga class a shot now that we know what we’re in for.

Another huge perk is that it’s located at 2217 N Clybourn, a walk away from the Lincoln Park campus and right next to Potbelly ​where we grabbed lunch after and across the street from Barnes and Noble where we got our study on right after. Not a bad Saturday in my opinion!

Another Resolution Post

Emily's Art
A phrase that often gets on my nerve is “new year, new you” As I scrolled through social media and talked with people, people always want to “reinvent themselves” and “start over.” I get it, I’ve been there too, but I hate how much emphasis we put on starting over on January 1st, because more often than not, it doesn’t work like that.

Something I’ve been advocating for and focusing on instead this week and this year, is making a commitment instead of a resolution. It probably sounds hypocritical seeing that my last post was about alternative resolutions, but this piggybacks off of that and sheds a new light on the word “resolution.”

Emily's Art
By definition, resolution means problem solving. It means something is wrong and we must fix it.  The strict deadline of starting on January 1st also leaves no room for fluidity and error, because so often we get in the mindset that if we slip up or act in opposition to our resolution, it’s over, we have failed, and now we have to wait for next year. In reality, every day, every hour, every minute is a new chance for you to make decisions in line with your values and every action you take is a fresh start for you - it doesn’t have to begin at midnight of the New Year.

Research has proven that these focuses are more beneficial and long lasting than a New Year's Resolution to diet or work harder. Those are such ambiguous and unattainable goals, and without recognition of achievement within those goals, you don’t get any gratification or reward from it, which is what inspires you to keep going. 

Emily's Art
So, this year, I’m committing to working on self-acceptance, which includes challenging perfectionism and being okay with upsets or bumps in the road. It’s striving to live a life in line with my values, which can be broken down into small things like trying to meditate for 20 minutes each day, and allowing myself to take breaks from my homework and recharge. It’s feeding and nourishing my body in a healthy way, and challenging the rigid structure I often find myself bound to, especially when school starts. It’s practicing flexibility, because that helps manage my stress levels and overall productivity.

And while some of these are just as ambiguous as resolutions, it allows me to work on different things everyday instead of getting obsessive about calorie counting on My Fitness Pal, which ultimately just sucks you into your phone and mental calculations and takes you away from everything else going on in your life. It’s only been 5 days and already one night I didn’t meditate, but instead of saying “oh well, nice try at this one, Em” I said “I’m going to do it tomorrow morning instead!”

Emily's Art
This isn’t a “new me.” I’m still my same self, just making a commitment to challenge the aspects of my life that aren’t working well right now :)

Here is some art I’ve done ​of some of my favorite quotes to inspire you in the new year:

December Intersession

Making the transition from fall quarter to having six weeks off for winter break is a pretty big change, especially since most schools are not on the quarter system so chances are most of your friends are in the midst of finals these weeks after Thanksgiving.

If you’re anything like me, you strive off of the structure associated with classes and due dates, and all of a sudden having nothing to do seems nice at first but after a few days you’re bored and stuck in a rut.

That was me the past two years. So, this year, I decided to make a change. For these three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas I decided to get a required basic communications class out of the way by taking a December Intersession course online. Additionally, I continued working at my job in the CDM ​Advising office as a student worker.

Even though my class was online and I didn’t have that structure of needing to show up for class, I took that as an opportunity to structure my schedule by going to coffee shops or Barnes and Noble to do my readings or write essays. I scheduled in going to the library to take the midterm and final exams online. I used the structure of being in front of a computer at work to write these blogs or post the required discussion posts for the class.

These little changes made such a huge difference. And, so I could still see my friends that go to school in Chicago but do have finals, we could study together or take a break and grab lunch. 

So, if you have basic intro classes you’ve been waiting to get out of the way or even have open electives and one of the December classes offered catches your eye, I definitely recommend trying it out! Just be ready to do a lot of work, it’s not a blow-off period, you’re squeezing 10 weeks of class into 3!

The Addiction of Social Media

The other day I was at the Apple Store getting my phone fixed, and they had to restore it and set it up as a new phone. This meant that everything got erased off of my phone - apps, texts, contacts, pictures, and it got completely reset. Afterwards, as I started redownloading apps, I decided I wasn’t going to redownload social media right away and have a little detox from it.

Now 2 days later, I still have not downloaded Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and it has actually felt pretty good, but not until now have noticed a few things. 

On several occasions, I have found myself going on my phone without even thinking to scroll through Instagram, only to realize I don’t have it. I’m noticing that it is such a habit, and that whenever I’m bored, it’s how I fill my time. I have also found myself on multiple occasions thinking “I need to make this my snapchat story” and turn on my phone to do so.

It’s crazy how addicted our society is to social media. And while it’s a great communication style and news outlet, it’s also a huge time-sucker. In only two days, I’ve noticed some perks, such as...

Social Media
I got to the train early this morning. Every morning after my alarm goes off I find myself scrolling through what I missed on Instagram and Twitter and checking Snapchat, and never realized how much time that takes away. No wonder I’m always in a rush in the morning…

Another perk was that I had to write an essay for my December Intercession Class that’s due today, and I got to work at 9 and finished the essay by 11am. Normally I would’ve been sitting at my desk at work my entire shifting writing this essay, getting distracted on social media, killing time, etc. 

Buuuut there were also some downsides….like I forgot I didn’t have the Starbucks app redownloaded when I was in line this morning, so no stars for me! The same thing happened on the Metra this morning because I didn’t have the Ventra ​app redownloaded, but I think the conductor felt bad for me in a frenzy trying to log back in and it failing, so he just let me ride for free. Shoutout to that guy.

Really there’s no right or wrong that came out of this, it was more just interesting to observe the different habits I’m in that I didn’t realize before. And tomorrow I’m off to Mexico for a week so will probably take more of a pause from social media as well to just enjoy the time with my family, but of course will have to post a picture or two on Instagram :) 

Public Speaking

As a journalism major, one of the super fun classes I’m required to take is public speaking. Immediately after I signed up for this class during enrollment last spring, I dreaded beginning. Public speaking is on the top of my “things I hate doing” list.

Growing up I was super shy and introverted, and although I’ve outgrown that, I’m an incredibly anxious person and am still not a fan of having all eyes on me. Luckily, the class hasn’t been as bad as I expected, and I actually learned some valuable skills (and didn’t pass out or run out of the room during my speeches).

So, here are some tips I have for the next time you have to give a speech either in class or outside of school.

1. Notecards. We were allowed to have notecards with bullet points during our speech, and naturally there were those kids in my class who thought they were better than that, so didn’t use any. Luckily I looked past that cockiness and wrote down a few notes for each point I was making. It allowed me to not completely read from them but when I’m super anxious sometimes my mind goes blank so it was a good safety net. And if I wanted to quote someone I could have the whole quote actually written out.

2. Eye contact. Eye contact is one of the most uncomfortable parts, and I have a tendency to avoid looking directly at people, but instead look above them or literally anywhere else. Lesson: don’t look above them. When other presenters did that it was so obvious to the audience and it definitely looks odd. Instead just keep your eyes moving around the room without holding it anywhere for too long.

Public Speaking
3. Don’t wait until the very end to present yours. 

4. Timing. Because we had a certain time length our speech had to be, I would practice my speech alone and time it, but you almost never speak at the same pace during the speech. I talked much faster when I was in front of the class because I was nervous, so if your time requirement is 5-7 minutes, aim to have to be closer to 7 when you rehearse (if you're like me and your anxiety quickens your speaking rate).

5. Speak about something you’re passionate about! Luckily my professor was very open about topics, and we could literally present on anything, as long as it filled the general requirements (i.e.: a persuasive or informative speech). When you talk about something you're passionate about, you feel less inclined to follow the rigidity of your notecards, because you can just speak from all the knowledge and passion you have inside. So, naturally my speeches were about going to school in Canada, yoga, and companies that donate profits to charity (and I’m obsessed with elephants so used The Elephant Pants as an example).


Floating

In a previous post I’ve shared that I’m taking a mindfulness class right now (SNC198...aka the best class ever that everyone should take), and how we went on a 4 day retreat to Starved Rock back in September.

Since that retreat, the rest of the class has been online, but we’ve had some cool assignments to do, which always keeps the class really interesting. Since it’s in the School of New Learning, those students take the course as a pass/fail, but if you’re enrolled in it to fill your junior year experiential learning domain, like myself, you receive a letter grade for it. Thus, you have some extra assignments to do. Luckily, they’re fun and engaging. 

One of them is an essay where we had to try out an alternative form of meditation and compare it to the meditations and mindfulness practice we did on the retreat. Something I had always wanted to try but never got around to doing, was floating in a sensory deprivation tank. So, I thought this was a perfect opportunity (and justified spending money on it).

Oto Float
A place called Oto Float had opened up right by my house in late August, so I went in there one afternoon. To kill two birds with one stone, I thought I’d also write an article about it for my journalism class. After talking to one of the owners for a while and checking out the place, he said I could interview him, and gave me my first float for free!

The tank contains 1000 pounds of Epsom salt, which makes you effortlessly float to the top/ You have the option to keep the tank open or closed, have the lights in there on or off, and have music or a guided meditation playing.

Floating causes a feeling of weightlessness, and the reduction of external stimuli allows for a deep state of relaxation. In this state, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which reduces anxiety. 

In an interview with Jen Stutler, an employee at Oto Float and girlfriend of the founder, she says “I find that it seriously reduces my anxiety. My first float amplified it, my heart was beating fast, but now I can’t wait to get in the tank. It’s safe in there. And I find I have a better outlook when I’m done. I feel better for days.”

I had a similar experience, where I was super anxious for the first 20-30 minutes, but after that time flew by, and it was really on my way home that I felt the effects and felt so much calmer and at peace.

I haven’t been back since, but I hope to soon and everyone should try it out, especially in the midst of finals!
​​

Writing for the DePaulia

If you’re anything like me and love to write, or even if you don’t know if you like it, hate writing essays, or just want to improve your writing skills, there are many ways to write outside of essays assigned in your classes. Because obviously those are required and often aren’t about things you’re actually interested AND you’re being graded, so of course you wouldn’t enjoy that feeling of stress put onto you!

Luckily, there are opportunities outside of that, and who knows, it could even advance your essay writing skills! As a Journalism major, I want to practice getting my work out there, writing about things I enjoy, and using writing as a form of distraction from real life, self-care, and a way to calm myself down (which I never thought was possible until I tried it!)

The DePaulia
With that, there are many ways even on campus to take this approach. Obviously, that’s what I’m doing here writing for the DeBlogs, but there are additional opportunities on campus as well! The major one is the student newspaper, The DePaulia​. My sophomore year I was intimidated by them and went to one meeting at the beginning of the school year, put my email down for weekly article opportunities from the Arts & Life section, and every single one went into the trash without a second glance. I had this false idea that you had to have lots of experience, the editors would judge you and then not publish your work, and it would just prove that I’m not a great writer.

While all those fears are technically valid, I learned they’re far from true! In fact, they are always looking for new contributors, and you don’t need to write for them weekly if your schedule is super busy. You can just pick up pieces when one of the emails interests you. 
   
Finally, I thought to myself this year, what’s the worst that could happen if I picked up a story? So, I did exactly that. The first week of school I wrote an article about the new Netflix Original shows coming out this fall. They published it, and when I picked up the DePaulia the following week on my way to class, I smiled upon seeing my piece.

If you’re interested, here is the piece! (Don’t judge the headline, they changed mine and it’s less generic and boring in the print version so I don’t get it either…)

The DePaulia is a great way to get involved on campus, and is definitely worth trying out! Worst case scenario, you discover it’s not your thing so you head in a different direction


Midterms and Art

Art
I’m sure many of you can relate, but my midterms week consisted of many hours in the library, study groups, venti coffees, little sleep, and my hand
Art
cramping from writing study guides. I’m often told I’m a perfectionist and need to “chill” about studying endlessly, so for the first time ever, I tried to follow that advice. What I set up was that I would study until 10-11pm, and then had to do an hour of “self-care.” So, I got out all my art material (I’m really into watercolor and calligraphy right now), lit candles, played relaxing music, and sat on my yoga mat with my dog.

Art
Of course, it gave me anxiety. I needed to study more, I wasn’t prepared, and I couldn't focus. The more I challenged those thoughts though, the easier it got. I was given the advice to make an art piece that got out all the thoughts in my head. And guess what? It worked! This is a technique called cognitive defusion, where you defuse from being stuck in your head by expressing them through art, writing, or by saying “I notice I’m having the thought that…” Suddenly I wasn’t obsessing over the midterm I had the next morning, and just let myself relax.

Art
Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been trying to do this occasionally, and have also been posting my art on an Instagram account I have and surprising my friends by mailing them art with some of my favorite quotes. This week especially though, this outlet helped me the most! So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should totally try this! Or if you’re not into art, participate in one of your favorite hobbies mindfully! I promise it helps :)

Mindfulness and Meditation

At the end of September, I went on a 4 day retreat to Starved Rock for one of my courses - SNC198 Mindfulness and Meditation - and learned more on that retreat than I ever have in my other courses.

Retreat
Now for over 7 years, Dr. Michael Skelley, a professor in DePaul’s School for New Learning, leads a group of 20 students on a mindfulness and meditation retreat to Starved Rock semiannually. For 4 days we participated in meditation practices, group discussions, mindful walking and hiking, reflective journaling, and embracing the power of silence. We were also encouraged to turn our phones off and remain mindful the whole time (and we couldn’t bring homework!)

During the weekend, Skelley discussed types and causes of pain and suffering, invisibility, curiosity, and letting go. And, of course, we practiced meditating, because there really is no wrong way to do it. He says, “I think there are so many myths about meditation that people have heard and so people try to meditate on their own and they end up just getting frustrated or doing themselves more damage than good and so I’m really concerned about trying to correct some of the myths.”

Skelley has been practicing mindfulness from the age of 10 on, but found his interest in Buddhism while earning his PhD in the 1980s. At the time, Insight Meditation Society opened a practice in Massachusetts, and author John Kabat-Zinn developed his mindfulness-based stress reduction program.

The famous Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh​ said, “In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” This is the foundation of their teachings, and of the retreat as well. It was a really eye opening experience to notice what comes up for us in meditations, and being disconnected from society in general calmed a lot of my anxiety about school, work, deadlines, etc.

Retreat
He mentioned that most of the students who take his class say they’re taking it because they feel stressed in one way or another. Because of this, the 20 of us were able to bond and relate on so many levels even at all different ages, and spending 4 days with them was such a valuable experience. Now all we talk about is how we want to go back!

In reflecting on his own practice, Michael tries to do 30 minutes of formal meditation daily, and takes everyday tasks, such as reading, walking, and cooking, and slows down to do them mindfully. He encouraged us at the end of the retreat to put in place a similar routine, and we are currently following an 8 week meditation book and the meditations it includes. Now, I try to do a 10-20 minute meditation every evening, and it helps me fall asleep because it calms down my built up anxiety from the day.

Everyone should definitely check out this course! It’s available every fall and spring, and it’s one I will never forget!

Meet Emily!

Oh hey there!

I’m Emily and I’m a senior studying Journalism with a minor in Psychology. I’m originally from the northern suburbs, Wilmette, where I frequently go to visit my dog Piper. 

Some (fun) facts about me: 
1. I went to school in Canada my freshman year
2. I’m a dual citizen with Canada and the US
3. I have an obsession with elephants (and rode one once in Thailand...best day of my life)
4. I’ve been making movies with my friends since I was 10 
5. I tap danced for 10 years
6. I can quote pretty much every line of Friends
7. I could eat a PB&J for almost every meal
8. I’m obsessed with yoga (and am getting into meditation)
9. I played badminton in high school (it’s a real sport...we went to State)
10. I just went on a 4 day meditation retreat for one of my classes (and I get credit for it!)

Emily
At DePaul I have experience transferring, taking classes part time (and taking a medical leave), commuting for a quarter, living in on campus apartments, writing for the DePaulia, changing majors and being a student worker in the CDM graduate admission office!

When I’m not in classes or working, I enjoy writing in coffee shops, taking my dog to the beach, rewatching 30 Rock (but my latest obsession is The Newsroom and Broad City), watching movies and being a film snob about them, practicing yoga (obviously), and making breakfast for dinner.