Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guest Post: Discovering YOUR Look After The Diaper-Bag Years

College is a beast. Chemistry is another language entirely. Group projects take a lot of effort. These are all among the reasons why I have been entirely and utterly absent. But, never fear! A really wonderful blogging buddy from "Is It Hot In Here?" Menopause, Motherhood & More swooped in to the rescue with this blog post. Thank you, L!

Go over to L's social media pages and show her some love for me, as a thank you!
You can also find L on...
The Geek Parent:
Mom's Crayon:
"Is It Hot In Here?" Menopause, Motherhood & More:

Without further wait, moms and future mom’s out there, this one is for you!
L fixed this stained purse herself! She glued
a flower on the purse that had neutral colors in it,
to tie the whole thing together. Saved the $75 purse
with a $1 craft flower!
Recently, I admired an acquaintance’s shoes while we were waiting on the blacktop.  “Oh yeah,” she said.  “I decided, now that my youngest is in kindergarten, to finally get 'grown-up' shoes again.  It was a lot harder than I thought.”  I immediately understood.  Once a mother is past the diaper-bag and toddler stages of her littlest one's life, she often realizes that that all of her clothes, shoes, and accessories are utilitarian, rather than fashionable. They're designed to hide spit stains, are easy on/easy off, are good for wrestling and chasing children in, and have enough room for diapers, snacks, drinks, extra clothes, toys, etc.

In Charise's case, not only were her clothes more practical than pretty, but she had no idea who she is now.  We aren't the women we were before we had our children.  We're older and possibly in a different decade of our lives.  We may not be working while our wardrobes are still predominately business attire.  We  often have a better idea of what the other people in our lives think we should look like (husbands, partners, parents, friends) rather than knowing what WE like.

So what do you do?  Here are a few suggestions:

1.                  Look at magazines and websites.  Put down the parenting rags and look at sources designed for people  of your own age and situation.  For example, Charise is no longer a working , 30-something Wall Street manager; she's now a 40-something stay-a-home mother whose needs are different than they were before.  She wants stylish clothes that fit her daily life.  You'll find a list of helpful sites at the end of this post.

2.                  Take some time to yourself to investigate stores you like and try on different clothes.  Yes, this is time-consuming and I, for one, find it unpleasant, but it's necessary.  You don't have to buy from those stores, but trying garments on will give you an idea of what looks good on you and what you like.  Take pictures with your camera phone.  You can always order styles online, often at a fraction of the cost of store inventory.

3.                  Notice women you admire who might be in situations similar to yours with similar body types. I've admired  women on the blacktop, in the grocery store, and even waiting for my daughter at gymnastics.  I keep watching them to see what pieces they have in their wardrobe that I like and try to remember for when I do go shopping for myself. 

4.                  Don't be afraid to shop in the men's or other departments.  Some of the best flannel shirts I've ever bought, good for hanging out in on snowy days or wearing over leggings to a friend's house have come from the men's section of a store. 

5.                  Look for multi-purpose pieces.  Large scarves are not only fashionable, but can be worn as shawls on cold days.  Scarves themselves add a sophisticated touch to any wardrobe. Intimidated by how to fold them?  Here's a link that will show you 38 ways to tie a scarf.

6.                  For hairstyles, again, check out websites or go to a hair salon you trust and ask what they suggest.  Now that you're no longer limited by the prospect of a baby hanging on to your locks for dear life, you have many more options.

7.                  Find out what a store's return policy is before you buy those heels.  I think fashion should be practical, so even though you don't have to dash after a toddler anymore, nor should your feet suffer with blisters just so you can look good.

8.                  Don't forget to check your closet for pieces you can use.  I have so many purses that are still useful.  I've glued on flowers or other decorative pieces to update them and make them coordinate with what I'm wearing.  Here's where you can put your creative juices to good use!

And again, think about what YOU like!  Just because your mother says you should dress in black because “it looks slimming, Dear” doesn't mean you have to.  If your husband wants you to wear heels when you go out, but they kill your feet, invite him to wear them instead!  Your appearance says everything about you, the real you, not the “box” others have placed you in.  Embrace yourself for the person you are NOW, not the shadow who you once were.  The diaper-bag and toddler years are over – go find yourself!

Here are some resources to find the look you want at any age:

Hairstyles For Fall/Winter 2014. (Hint:  variations on the pony tail are hot this season!)

Fall/Winter 2014 Fashion:
Key to Chic
Best Fashion Blog

Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Gotta Do You

I have this really fantastic friend from high school. Well, I have several. This story is about one in particular. I cannot tell you when we first met… I think it might have been when I helped her and two mutual friends with a play skit or maybe we were in classes together, but it is hazy.  We always had mutual friends. That I know. Junior year of high school we were in classes together – that I remember – and that is when we really rocked that school. We painted murals together, made funny faces endlessly, and ran along beaches in the cold of spring, naming shells “Squishy” along our way. (If you got that Finding Nemo reference, you get an A+ in Awesome.)
Me and Lauren this summer.  ♥ Mom took
this just before we went to see the
musical version of Legally Blonde.
Theater lovers!

She is my Glorious. (You know how I love to nickname friends whenever the opportunity arises.)

She is one of the most excitable, sweetest, kindest, non-judgmental, most love-filled people I have ever met. At the same time, she is one of the most opinionated, stand-her-ground, tell-you-the-truth-that-needs-to-be-told kind of person. She is a tough cookie! And boy, do I love that about her. All of it.

At the first school dance I ever went to she ran up to me, noticing I was a bit awkward and stiff, and started dancing with me. As we danced she yelled over the music, “Shake what your momma gave you, Katie!” Whenever I realize I’m being tense and awkward, I think of my Glorious. I whisper to myself, ‘Shake it out, Katie, shake-it out.’

Metaphorically, of course. No booty shaking in the hallways!

The fun-tastic Summary of Our Friendship collage
I made for Lauren's birthday this year.

Lauren is a 4-foot-something firecracker. I couldn’t imagine my high school life without her friendship. I couldn’t imagine my current life without her friendship. Her friendship has been a gem in my life.  I spoke very briefly earlier this year about my struggle with illness; this took a huge toll on friendships. (It still continues to.) I spent months out of high school. When I was in school, I rarely had time to hang out with friends. It can be hard to make connections with people that way. And, understandably, it is hard for people who have never been ill or haven’t had a close family member ill, to truly understand what that is like and know how to deal with it, for them to know I wasn’t just blowing them off, not caring, or ignoring anyone. Lauren never had that problem. Somehow she always knew and understood. It is the old soul in her, I guess. She always loved me regardless. Even now, the older we get, any-and-all of my quirks, she has embraced with open arms.

She truly tries to love everyone for who they are. I admire that about her, because I try the same, but I know I fail at it – a lot. (Oh, heck, who am I kidding? I admire a lot about her. That girl is FAB.)

Whenever I am apologizing for something…For having to miss a get-together, for not responding to a text, for being a giant squid of anger when I am normally as gentle as a bunny, she is the first one to hold up the imaginary Neon Flashing Sign: “WHOA GIRL.” She is my gentle Gibbs Slap. (Keeping with the media references, a NCIS reference for you!)

“Katie, girl,” She will tell me, speaking in a Russian accent that’s slipping into in German; after all, she is an actor at heart. Her hand goes on my shoulder, as friends do. “Girl, you have got to do you.”

You gotta do you.

Those are some of the wisest words I could ever hear. And some of the most needed ones.

If ever there were a year in which I needed Glorious’ wise words, it has been this one. 

Some beautiful, flowering trees a took pictures of
at my former college.

I have always struggled with ‘doing me’. I am a perfectionist, which means I obsess and worry and have anxiety attacks trying to make everything perfect – and be perfect. By definition, I am a people-pleaser. Giving everything to other people, that is my style. Whatever they want, I go with. Whatever is demanded of me, I rise to the occasion. Better yet, whatever I perceive that needs to be done or that is expected and required of me, I plow on to get it done. Man, do you know how exhaustive that is? How about a “hell yeah!” for stressful?

It is walking around with an obligation to hold the world up with only your two shoulders, an obligation you put on yourself. ‘Forget about the other several billion people on the planet,’ says your brain, ‘it is all on YOU. Better yet, that other several billion? Yeah, that’s why you have got to shake ass. I mean, you need to stand out, right?’

As if I have to, in the words of
BrenĂ© Brown, hustle for my worth - to prove something.

(An aside: I like being liked, but more importantly I like seeing other people happy. I genuinely don’t like hurting people. I love helping them. Seeing joy alight in a person’s eyes makes my heart soar.  It isn’t like I do everything with this hustling-for-my-worth mentality in the forefront of my mind, but, listen, I’ve gotten to the point where I am trying not to BS with myself anymore. Humans do act and interact based upon a reward system. Dopamine release in the brain tells us when something feels good and is safe; if it feels good, we want to do it more. Hence addictions develop. Doing our best and getting praised, doing our best and feeling accomplished, and helping others all make us feel good.  Once we get a taste we want to keep doing it, to feel that again. It doesn’t mean the action of helping someone doesn’t come in sincerity from the deepest part of your heart. It does. There is just something egging it on. That feel-good feeling becomes an addiction; feeling anything else is terrifying.  Sometimes it is helpful, sometimes that addiction becomes detrimental to yourself.  We’re talking about the latter here.)

"I'm a Hobbit!"
Library study session adventures at my last college.

When you aim to Do It All and Be It All, eventually the world is going to flush down the drain. It is impossible.  Either everything is going to crumble, you’ll lose your mind, or both. We are just not made to try to be Wonder Women and Supermen!

College has brought its own share of illusion-shattering for me. My I Can Be Superwoman mentality has been torn through on several occasions. At the end of my freshman year of college I made a very hard decision to leave behind my friends and amazing teachers to transfer to another college. It ended up being the best decision I could have made for myself. At the time, it was very difficult. I knew the place could not work for me for a variety of reasons; but I loved the teachers, the smallness and closed-knit atmosphere of the campus, the beauty of the landscape, the convenience of living on campus, and, of course, my friends. Transferring meant graduating without them. It was also a high end school that would look good on my transcript. No one was pressuring me to stay, but I felt expected to stay, obligated.

In the end, I had to leave – for my own sanity and health.

Earlier that year I had been signed up for Biology, Calculus I, Chemistry, and another course. Within the first two weeks I found myself having mental break downs. I was tired. My anxiety was through the roof. There was so much work I was overwhelmed because I didn’t have the time I needed to understand the concepts that were being thrown at me. But I was on a Pre-Med track. If I couldn’t do that, what did that say about graduate school? Besides, dropping courses meant extending my graduation date. It also meant leaving behind hopes of the Dean’s List because there was a certain credit requirement for it. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I didn’t want to ruin my chances at graduate school. I didn’t want to let myself down.

Eventually, I had to Do Me. I dropped chemistry and changed Calculus I to pre-calculus. I transferred my first college with a solid 4.0 for both semesters. To this day I still remember biology concepts, sociological concepts, and historical events from the classes I took that year. Hardest decision = best decision.

Those were little testing grounds. This year…this year the Universe is throwing in the true testers.  I am really getting to see, for the first time, just what I grip on to.

Just a few, recent examples (there are more, trust me):

Thursday, I stayed home from school. Gasp! The horror!  I have, maybe, if I am lucky, missed five days of college – maybe a week, if we get crazy – in my college years. This is pretty remarkable considering how much I struggle with my health and how much going to-and-from class, sitting in class, and still managing to do homework is often an impossible task. (There is too much to do, too little energy and too much muscle pain to do it.) Yet, I do it. Why? I am so driven to do well, to get that A, otherwise grad schools won’t take me. Regardless of what it takes: I go to class.

On Thursday, I had an ocular migraine. A regular migraine, light sensitivity and all, coupled with vision abnormalities. The idea of missing class grated on me. Miss class, me? No! Something important will be discussed. Besides, I have a group I’m part of. I can’t let them down. The stress of resisting what my body needed only made the migraine worse.

Today I only had plans for class, homework, and studying. With midterms coming up and events this weekend, there is no time for fun or play! It is nose-to-the-grindstone for this gal. Yet, when I sat down after dinner for my second wind, I was hit with a series of flashbacks over the past year. I became restless as I tried to shove down the urge for writing that has been building for the past month and a half. (Because I do not allow myself to write during the school year, since my first focus is always school work and other obligations.) Inspiration and desire bubbled up from my core until BAM – explosion!  Here I am, writing to you.

This year, for a lot of hard, personal reasons, I have had to let a lot of people go from my life, for my own well-being. I resisted this with claws dug deep into the ground. I clung on to what I wanted to still be true of the relationship and what could have been. Fear and worry of coming off looking like the “bad one” to people who don’t understand and the fear and pain of hurting others has made it even more difficult, as a truly care about them. It bruised my heart. I have also had to be very honest with what I do and don’t enjoy, where my morals and my level of comfortability come to into play, and allow myself to realize that those who truly care for me will love and accept me as I am. Those who don’t, I have to learn to accept, weren’t truly my friends to begin with.  (It is scary! But standing up for myself has really worked.)

Not long ago I decided to take a certification course. It was a weekend training session, 9-5, during the school year. I almost passed up the opportunity because of that. How could I take so much time away from my studies? But I really, secretly wanted to do the course. The idea excited me. I tried to stifle the excitement, but I couldn't contain it for long. So I took a plunge;  I signed up for the course. And, you know what? It was one of the most uplifting, relaxing, exciting, and fun weekends I have had all semester.

Earlier this semester, I made one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make: drop a vital course. This time I didn’t drop chemistry itself (believe me, I’ve really wanted to a few times as I sit working through problems), but, rather, its lab. It was a decision that would push me back even further in my graduation date.  The work load was intense, though. I might as well have been taking a 4 credit course instead of a one credit one.  While trying to practice all of my chemistry from lecture, practicing statistics, and working group projects in my other courses, it was all too much. And I hadn’t even added in lab yet! Once I added in lab work, I was up until 3am doing homework, trying to make sure I had concepts down, practice in, and assigned work completed. (Me without enough sleep is not a pretty sight. I am irritable and whiny. I toss my textbooks across my bed and throw little temper tantrums because all I want is sleep. The day after, my body wages war as if I am Middle Earth and Sauron is trying to fight the Free People all over me. Illness no likey no sleepy.) My anxiety was through the roof. I was restless. I was suffocating. I was having a break down Every. Other. Day. Tears, depression, feeling like I was trapped inside a cage, feeling like I was going out of my mind, and anxious all of the time - the whole shebang. I hated making the decision. The entire time I just wanted someone to make it for me. Just tell me: “drop the class.” Gosh, isn’t it easier when someone gives you the permission by freeing you of obligation?  No one told me that. My parents told me it was my decision, and that they supported me in whatever I chose. They were supportive, they did help me, and in the end I came to the decision I needed most: you gotta do you. No one could bring that realization to me. I had to reach it on my own. It is a tough lesson I have to work through.

There is a running theme here: all of the pressure put upon me was in my mind. Yes, there were some external incentives. Attendance is graded in my classes, I only have three graduate schools in the country to choose from for the degree I want, and my graduation date keeps moving further out of grasp (meaning I keep acquiring more and more in undergraduate loans), for instance. But at the crux of it all, I am the one deciding that all of these things deserve a weight strong enough to hold me hostage. I was the one bullying myself into a corner.

Life is a river.

You have two options: be a leaf, drop into the current and follow where it leads, or be a rock, with everything life brings to you crashing and beating against you.

At first glance a rock is safe, right? It is sturdy, steady. It knows where it is going and is comfortable with that, resisting everything that tries to move it from that path.  A leaf is uncertain – who knows where the current may lead?

Normally, I’m a rock.

Being a rock means migraines, misery, teeth-clenching, anxiety, and every unpleasant feeling and emotion. These are the body’s manifestation of our resistance.

The leaf, the leaf is the way to go.
Staying home from school was the best decision I could’ve made this week. My migraine went away, for good. I caught up on sleep I needed. I de-stressed, which I severely needed. And I got a lot done. I feel much, much better than had I gone into class, even if I could’ve gone.  As the semester goes on, I realize there is NO way I would have had the time to take Chem Lab and even consider sleeping. And I like sleep. And my sanity.  I have learned that I will get where I am meant to go in life at my own pace, not the pace I force myself to go at, but the past I need to go at. I cannot force a timeline. Life will meet me where I am at. I just have to listen to myself. And even though my heart truly aches and misses those who I have had to let go over this past year, I had to let them go, for my own good. Every day it gets a bit easier, every day I realize that, without a doubt, I made the right decision.
I feel lighter because of it. Happier.
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is the hardest thing you have to do. Especially when that right thing is being done by you for you and not for someone else; after all, courage isn’t about absence of fear or discomfort, it is about having the vulnerability to face that fear and discomfort.

I promise you’ll be happier having done it. You’ll be a better person, more able to constructively help others and yourself. You cannot help anyone if you don’t take care of yourself First and Foremost. That includes standing up for yourself.

Girl, you Gotta Do You.

When was the last time you had the courage to Do You?

Monday, October 6, 2014

I'm Back!

Hi Doodles! There have been some technical difficulties on the blog these past few weeks. I have been unable to access it until now. Never fear! We are back online now! I will be returning shortly with a bunch of posts.

In the mean time,  get out and enjoy
autumn. Nature's beauty awaits you! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Staying Organized: School Schedules

Happy September! To those in school: welcome back to school, everyone, I hope your first weeks have been wonderful! To those who aren't in school: I hope that your month has found you filled with many blessings and much gratitude.

Courses began nearly three weeks ago for me, but many of my friends started weeks before. (My university is a bit slow on the roll. ;) But I don't mind - more summer!) These past weeks have been a struggle. Running tally:  4 or 5+ break downs, a notebook's worth of paper, a stack of printer paper, a cartridge of ink, all of my free time, and, quite possibly, my sanity. Senior year is proving to be my most trying year yet. It's hard. I'd be lying if I said I staying 100% optimistic, but defeat isn't in my nature. Perhaps I am a bit stubborn. Believe me: defeat has been contemplated. I fancied the idea of dropping courses, of changing my career direction, of tossing in the towel and throwing up a white flag. But, let me be honest now, these frustrated, self-confidence lacking thoughts, they aren't my truth. They're the vain grumbles of an overwhelmed college senior. I mean, look at me!

Playing tourist!
In the week prior to school,
a dear friend of mine accompanied me on errands -
including stopping by my campus to pick up
my semester's books.
So, naturally, we took pictures in my school's
Finding gratitude in the darkest of situations is my specialty. Learning energizes me. (I could do without the homework, though. ;) ) I love my college. I have been entirely blessed with the ability to pursue an education. My professors are consistently amazing. Every hour spent buried in books, assignments, and studying has been entirely worth it. My grades thus-far have been stellar and, more importantly, the knowledge I have procured is pertinent to my everyday life and to my future practice. And no matter how much I might grumble about the studying or the homework or the group projects, healthcare is my passion. My soul is filled with many passions, but there are few I'd do for a career: being a doctor is one of them. Spreading happiness and good health - which is the key to all our dreams in life - is important to me. I love to inspire people to their best selves.

In moments of grumbles and breakdowns, I remind myself of this.

In moments of clarity, I whisper: "I am doing this to be a doctor. I am doing this to be a doctor. This, too, shall pass. The end goal is worth it." And you know what? It totally is.

When you're in college and the going gets rough, you need to focus on what is giving you the drive to get through. Remind yourself of all that is good. Find something in the struggle to be grateful for - there is always something, if you dig hard enough.

Still, to help ease my anxiety and stay on-task, I have a few tricks up my sleeves.

I am energetic, a bit bounce-around-like-a-ping-pong-ball, and simultaneously introverted. I prefer to brainstorm than outline. To-do lists are more suggestions than requirements. Drafting an essay on the first paragraph and ending at the conclusion, rather than wherever inspiration hits, brings anxiety. When I'm overwhelmed, productivity stops. I have to backtrack, find something else to do and regroup when I feel more able. In my personal life, this has served me well. In college, not so much. I have learned to adapt to survive; albeit, not always well. Sometimes it is an up-hill bicycle ride. But a girl has got to do what she's got to do! Make like nature and evolve! ;) (Biology humor for your day ;) ).

Trick #1: Organize your life.

If organizing can be your best friend, your life is made.

Meet my desk view:

I have two white boards, an academic planner, a personal planner, and a to-do list organized by academic and recreational factions. Leave no stone unturned! This is my monthly calendar. Here I can see the big picture, everything that is due in the entire month. When I took this picture, it was before a lot of my assignments were posted. None of my personal appointments or important recreational events, such as Rush, were posted, either. The space is pretty bare as a result - it never stays this way.  All major assignments, weekly assignments, appointments, events, and examinations go here. I color code the days of the week by courses and the weekends are left without color. The color coding helps me memorize my schedule.

Additionally, every course is associated with a specific color. My human nutrition course (online) is in green. My wellness education, blue. So on and so forth. If an assignment for that class were due, I'd write it in with the associated color. Black and Brown are my not-organized category. They fill in whatever my other categories don't cover, such as appointments.

This whiteboard I love because it also has space for additional notes, magnetic information holding, and a cork-board that can be used productively (you know, for things) or for holding mementos.

Add caption

Up close and personal! It was about this time that I forgot to mark down birthdays. I put mine down (shown below) and then began adding in others' - I wasn't able to get a shot of that, though.

Below is my weekly calendar. Every Sunday I organize my week based upon this. I write down everything that needs completion throughout the week and when everything is due, recreational and academic. This schedule was from Labor Day week, to show a basic idea of set-up, but the vastness of assignments and responsibilities has easily doubled.

I try to organize this as best as possible so that I have what needs to be done in an order of how I want to do it, or what is most urgent and pressing. Additionally, I try to clump together assignments for courses. That way, if I say "what do I need to do in Chemistry today?" I look for the chemistry group each day to see what I have left to do.

As I said before, to-do lists are often suggestions to me. I still struggle with them. (They are really important and helpful, though!) For example, I had a to-do list for this weekend that wasn't half-way finished by the end of it. Some assignments take longer than others which means you cannot always be Superman or Supergirl!

Starring important tasks the night before helps keep me on task, at least a smidgeon more.

My academic planner! Arguably the most important of them all. I always use the huge At-A-Glance planners. These have tons of space in their calendar sections at the beginning of the month, as well as tons of space for week-by-week use.

All of my assignments, to-dos, course times, and events go here. I write time-frames from 7am-on on the weekly sections. I then color code my classes (i.e. chemistry is orange, statistics is purple) with highlighters. For the first few weeks I block off 2-3 spaces per time period for my classes to make sure I get in my brain my course times. After that I just highlight the course name itself. Following every course name are assignments due and homework to be done for next class. Anything after the highlighted sections is extracurricular (or "recreational").

Here is the calendar portion! In order to remember when I have exams and what classes they are in, I highlight the exam #1 with the associated course number (i.e. orange for chemistry, purple for statistics). All of the major projects are written here, plus project deadlines, exams, and school vacations.

My personal planner. This is a moleskin given to me by a fellow writing buddy, but it needn't be so fancy. (Though, goodness, I adore this one so much I might splurge on myself next year.) This is small and convenient to stick in my purse and keep with me on-the-go. On the Notes side are things to do while I'm out or other to-dos (rarely homework, but sometimes!). The weekly calendar side has events for that week so that I know what to plan appointments around while I'm out. Here I include examinations and study-group sessions, because those are important to plan around.

Finally, my last portion: the to-do list. I always separate academic and recreational so I can prioritize and have clearer vision. As I complete an assignment or "to-do" I check it off or scratch it out. If I have something left to do on it after it is done (say, a question) I write it in color next to the list item. Being in color while everything else is black will assure that I do not forget it!

I haven't been able to take pictures of what my whiteboards and planners look like (honestly, I haven't had the time to); however, I managed to snag a quick picture before Recruitment of what my to-do list looks like now. It shows a good transition between beginning of semester and the heat of it. Plus, it serves as my case for future absences from this blog. I'm in over my head, guys, but I'm still swimming!

As soon as I get the chance, I will take a picture of my current whiteboards and make a new post.

For reference, I thought I'd show how my
to-do list has grown as the weeks continue on.
I've gone from a mini notepad to a large one,
in order to fit it all in. Between all of my classes,
I've easily exceeded 40 items. (For example,
there are 4 courses listed on the front sheet you see.
Another ten items are on the back, for another class.)

Keep in mind, this is weekly assignments, mostly.

And note how tiny my "recreational" list is.

Trick #2:
Take everything in small chunks. Do not let yourself stare at a long to-do list and freeze. You will cause an anxiety attack this way. Strip it down bullet-by-bullet. Peel away the layers. You can do this.

Trick #3: Do NOT think too far in advance, too often. Sometimes it is important to think about semester long assignments and it is easier and more beneficial to study a little each day for an exam, than cram the night before. But be weary! It is very easy to get stuck in this future-focused mentality which causes immense anxiety.

Be mindful in the present. Remember, as a professor of mine told us all today: "wherever your buttocks are, so should be your brain."

Trick #4: Take that mountain. Take a page out of another professor's book. Chemistry is absolutely terrifying. Studying for it makes me nearly hyperventilate. Other times I want to take my textbook and throw it across the room.  My professor is not naive to this. The first day of classes, as we were sitting there sweating buckets, she had us write a list. It was a list of great challenges we have overcome in life. Any moment that felt it was going to be impossible to achieve or overcome or get through, but in the end we did. Something that took great work and in the end we succeeded in. Anything. We're more capable than we might think we are. If we can do that, we can do this.

Mountains are not scaled in one leap.

Write yourself a list.

It is easy to get bogged down by what is going on in the now and forget what greatness lies within us. While struggling through problems and concepts, or, heck, any other life difficulty, it is important to look back and remember you've overcome challenges before and you can overcome this one. Even if the mountain feels insurmountable, it can be climbed - one step at a time.