Being Present

 

Credit: Pinterest

Last week I came across the above quote and it really spoke to me. Being physically present and being mentally present have two completely different definitions. Lately I have been feeling the absence of deep, meaningful conversations in my life and I yearn for that void to be filled.

I cannot remember the last time a phone wasn’t pulled out at some point during a conversation. When hanging out with a group of friends all it takes is one person to pick up their phone and everyone feels obligated to check theirs too. We have grown accustomed to the presence of technology and it is getting harder and harder to be fully present in day to day life. The truth about technology is saddening because no one my age knows how to entertain themselves without a screen. Someone whip out Yahtzee or Pictionary, PLEASE.

It may seem ridiculous to live without technology but pulling back from constant screen use is a great way to slow down your brain. Lock your phone and instead pass some time by reading, journaling or drawing…unleash the creativity! Once enough time is focused in a more constructive place than the depths of someone’s Instagram page a feeling of relaxation arises. There will always be time to be engrossed in social media but I hope more than anything that young people can learn to stay present in the more simple joys of life.

When having a conversation, I try to remind myself to continuously look someone in the eye and ask questions about what they are saying. That is the best way to show your true interest in another person. It is just too easy to get lost behind a screen when the world is going by around us. We walk around engrossed in the latest Tasty video or Snapchat story, completely oblivious to the beauty passing by with every step.

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It may seem impossible to go a full day without your phone but the experience will allow you to see the world a little differently. You don’t need that perfectly staged Snapchat video or Instagram story to show that you are having fun with your friends. There is definitely pressure in our world today about posting constantly to ensure that your followers know you are maintaining an interesting life. Your friends that you are hanging out with already know how much fun you are. Pictures and videos are great, but soaking in the memories with your eyes and ears is more organic and fulfilling.

It is always great to snap some pics of a new place or some cool food, but save the editing and posting until after in order to enjoy the rest of the day. People always seemed surprised when I say I left my phone at home for the day or night; it’s like a security blanket that is thought to be a necessity when I can function just as well without it.

Right now you are looking at a screen, as are billions of people around the world. Try taking a breather from all the screens and pay attention to the beautiful details all around you because the world is a lot more interesting than the Instagram popular page.

I snapped this pic before embarking on a beautiful walk down the beach a few weeks ago. Left my phone in the car (:

 

Planning Your Life with the Bullet Journal

Every time I mention my “bullet journal” — about twice per day — I usually garner a strange look from a friend or a passerby. I understand the confusion. It’s a weird name for what is essentially a DIY agenda, but I’m still a huge fan of the concept — name and all.

What’s a bullet journal, you ask? A bullet journal (often abbreviated to “bujo”) is a written organization system that has the potential to be an ongoing art project if that’s what you want it to be. If you want to stay organized, the bullet journal system is ideal for keeping track of everything you have to do. You can list your homework, workout schedule or anything else.

Continue reading “Planning Your Life with the Bullet Journal”

The Perks of Letter Writing

When I started college, I started writing letters more and more. I had always enjoyed writing birthday cards or notes to my friends when I thought they needed to be cheered up, but those were always passed out in person because I never had a reason to send them. Once I went to college, though, I started writing letters even more because it was exciting to me that I could put a stamp on something and send it. As outdated as letter writing seems, I really enjoy it and want to share a few perks of letter writing.

1. Nostalgia

Even though people my age probably don’t remember sending letters as much as our parents and grandparents do, we still grew up in an age where letter writing was slightly popular. It’s fun to write letters and be taken back to a time before everything was so fast paced and everyone expected an instant response.

2. A Great Way to Connect

You always hear stories about parents and grandparents trying to use technology so they can connect with their grandkids, but have you ever heard stories of grandkids writing letters to connect with their grandparents? Probably not, because that’s just not “cool.” I once got into a conversation with my grandmother about how I write letters to my friends and to pen pals and now we correspond. She sends me photos of herself and her family when she was younger and it’s a fun way to get to know her better.

3. A Way to Meet New People

I’ve seen websites and Tumblr pages dedicated entirely to finding pen pals. Some of these people look for electronic correspondence, but most are looking to write letters. These websites post bios of people looking for pen pals with things like where they’re from and their interests, and people can visit these websites and find people to correspond with. It’s a way to meet new people and find someone who has interests similar to yours.

4. A Possible Connection With Yourself

When I was in eighth grade, I had a health assignment to write a letter to my future self. The health teacher took our addresses and sent our letters to us when we graduated high school. My english teacher did the same thing when I was a senior and sent our letters to us when we finished our first year of college. I now plan on continuing this and writing myself a letter every year so that I can open it at the end of the next school year. It’s very cool to see how you’ve grown, but also what still stays the same. I’ve noticed that in five years, I’ve grown up, but a lot of my morals that were good are still the same.

5. A Creative Outlet

I’m a very creative person and I’ve always enjoyed immersing myself in creative projects to express myself. Writing letters is fun because it’s a way to express myself and be creative. I write in different colors or use different colored paper and stickers to make the letter unique to whomever I’m sending it to.

6. A New Hobby

Letter writing is definitely a hobby and I enjoy it very much. It’s a whole process. I collect different note cards and patterned paper to write on, and I make sure I have the pens I like to write my letters. Everyone has a different way of writing letters. Some people buy pretty stationery, some make their own, and some prefer to just write on blank or lined paper. There’s nothing more satisfying in my opinion than writing someone a letter that makes them smile and then receiving a reply that makes you smile as well. It’s very exciting to receive letters.

7. It’s Personal

I’m a writer, so I will always be better with the written word than the spoken word. All my friends and family know that if I write a card or letter then it’s something very special and personal. I never say anything I don’t mean in my letters and it’s my way to let people know how much they mean to me or how special they are. At least in my mind, there’s something uniquely special about writing a letter that you can’t get in any other medium.

8. A Different Writing Style

I try to be a Jack of All Trades when it comes to writing styles. I try to step away from just writing fiction and dabble in all different writing styles. I consider letter writing to be its own writing style. There’s something completely different about the language you use and the approach you take when you write letters. I like writing letters because I feel like it’s another way to broaden my horizons as a writer.

9. Makes People Happy

I love writing letters because I know how happy it makes the people who receive them. Sometimes I just send my friends letters without them knowing because I like seeing their reaction when they receive it. It makes me feel good to know that something I like to do can make other people happy.

10. A Break from Technology

When I write letters it’s a welcome break from technology. I sit down with my papers and pens and craft something that is unique and beautiful. It’s nice to take a break from the fast-paced world of emails, texts and emojis for a while and write an old-fashioned letter.

Letter writing is a big hobby of mine and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already do it. You don’t have to be an amazing writer or have fancy supplies. Just find a friend or family member and ask them to correspond. I’m sure they’ll be happy to do it. Through my letter writing, I inspired a few of my friends to take up letter writing with pen pals of their own and it makes me happy to know I can influence others to take up a hobby I’ve come to love so much.