Wellbeing.

Wellness has always been an important aspect of my life, but I never truly made it a priority or thought about how much work I had to put into my personal wellness until recently.  I have always been very active and fit.  As a runner, my physical wellbeing was always the thing that came to mind when thinking about wellness.  I have the stamina and endurance to run long distances and the heart to get out of bed every morning and start my day with a run.  I always feel better after a run than when I start.

For a long time, my definition of wellness was simply running and maintaining an active lifestyle.

In high school I had abs, strong legs, and a passion for running.  I thought that this was all I needed-that and carbs.  When it came to eating healthy, I would say that as a runner, I needed to eat healthy in order to provide my body the energy needed to run the distances that I do.  So that is (sort of) what I did.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m a clean eater and that I don’t enjoy splurging on sweets.  Ice cream is my weakness and I definitely eat my fair share of processed foods, but recently my main diet consists of fruits and veggies.  And a lot of carbohydrate rich foods like pasta and bread.  This was essentially my wellness lifestyle.

Fast-forward to today.  I am a first year #SAGrad and my definition of wellness has completely changed.  I still maintain my physical wellbeing and I still love to run and eat healthy.  I still eat ice cream and carbs.  But now, today, my concept of wellbeing expands so much deeper than my physical wellness and how fit I am.  I evaluate every part of my wellbeing in my daily life (as of recently).

My staff was gifted the book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath as a welcome to our job from our supervisor.  As a staff we are reading this in book club style and discussing our wellbeing in staff meetings weekly.  I love it!

IMG_6339

This book walks us through career, social, financial, physical, and community wellbeing (the five elements of wellbeing according to Tom Rath).  I love evaluating my daily wellness in each of these categories and taking the time each day to consciously focus on each element.

Here is a quick breakdown of the five elements of my own personal wellbeing:

As grad students it is so common to think about our career wellbeing because for many of us we have two short years to think about where we want to be after graduation.  I think about this daily.  I am finally taking classes that I enjoy and I am finally excited to learn and to do the assigned reading.  I know that Student Affairs is where I am meant to be and I am using this year as a way to continue growing in career wellness.

Social wellbeing is also a huge aspect of our wellbeing as grad students.  How do we have fun socially?  Who do we want to spend our time with?  Are these connections and relationships meaningful?  This is the big one for me right now.  I moved to a new state, university, and community where I knew no one.  Being a Woo, I love the challenge of meeting new people, but something is different about making friends in grad school in comparison to undergrad.  I am now a university staff member.  I am an advisor of a fraternity and a few student groups.  I have two years to make connections with people rather than four.  This is proving to be difficult but I have also noticed that it is good for me.  I have found that I love being alone and that I need to take time for myself.  I have put effort into meaningful relationships with the few friends that I’ve made so far, and I no longer spend time with people I don’t want to spend time with.  I am learning to say no.  I am excited to see how my social wellbeing evolves throughout the year.

Financial wellbeing.  Need I say more?  As a college student-especially as a graduate student-I fully understand that I am not financially well.  I am constantly worrying about money.  I have never been one to worry about money.  In fact, I hate that money dictates so much of my life already this year.  But I know that I must be frugal and thrifty as a grad student so I can prepare myself for my future after.  I have bills to pay and loans that accrue interest every second, and I always think about this.  It’s a work in progress, but one of my goals for this year is to get better at budgeting.  Wish me luck!

I mentioned physical wellbeing at the beginning of my post, but to recap, I am a lover of the outdoors.  I am a runner and an avid hiker.  These things keep me active and fit.  I have started practicing yoga and stretching more, and I have been focusing on the foods that I eat.  I have cut back on my coffee intake and increased my smoothie consumption as well as switching from my beloved Clif Bars to a healthier alternative, Lara Bars.  I hope to continue working on my physical wellbeing this year, and I am sure you will all hear about it in future posts.

FullSizeRender (2)

Lastly community wellbeing has been the hardest adjustment for me since starting grad school.  Moving to a new state, city, and community is tough.  I never thought it would be so hard.  I have felt more alone since coming here than ever before.  I don’t have my close friends and family right next to me anymore.  I don’t walk through campus and know every single person that I pass.  No joke, this was actually my life for the past four years.  I have been jumping at opportunities to meet people and to feel like a part of this community and I know that as the year progresses, it will get easier.  I have attended community and campus events and my job has definitely helped me in finding a strong network among my peers and staff members.  I am excited to see where this adventure leads me this year.

And something that I have learned already in my few short weeks of being here is the importance of self care.  Take time to do something you love every day.  Take time for yourself.  Run, hike, yoga, meditate, read, craft/build, write.  Whatever it may be…take care of yourself and allow yourself to be immersed in what you love in order to rejuvenate each day.IMG_6326

As you can see, my thoughts on wellness have changed in the last few weeks and I am excited to continue working on being a holistically well human being.  I want to thrive in my wellness and I know that grad school is the perfect time to start working on this.  How am I supposed to encourage wellness among the students I work with if I myself am not well?

Take care friends,

-Joel

Advertisements

#SAReads: We Believe You.

IMG_5534.JPG

I started this book for #SAAM, but unfortunately didn’t have a chance to finish it during the month, as I was exceptionally busy with traveling to South Dakota, studying for final exams, cleaning and packing and moving out of my house, and graduation.  Looking back now I am glad that I didn’t finish it during the month of April because, since I have been done with school all I’ve wanted to do is read, and I’ve had ample time to do so.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to finish this book, as well as to fully take in the stories that are crafted in it.

Each survivor story told in this book is unique and special, and having the extra time to consume the stories at their fullest really helped me to grasp the emotions of each survivor as they told their stories.

I was deeply inspired by this book, and highly recommend it to EVERYONE.  If you are an educator, parent, mentor, #SAGrad, or #SAPro, I especially recommend it to you.  It is so important that we educate today’s youth on the issues surrounding consent, sexual assault, and relationship violence.  #ItsOnUs to build a more positive, healthy, and safe future and we can do so by creating a culture in which sexual assault is talked about and fully understood, especially for high school and college students.

I will be starting my first semester as a #SAGrad this fall, and as an aspiring #SAPro it is my hope that my students understand the importance of this issue.  I want my campus to take sexual assault seriously and to offer the survivor support, and resources.  Most importantly, I want my campus to believe survivors.

In closing, I’d just like to say that I truly enjoyed this book.  It takes courage and strength to tell your story, stand up for what is right, and to fight institutionalized power.  I’m so proud of all of the survivors in this book and all survivors out there, because you are braver than most people in this world.  I believe you.

-Joel

IMG_5403.JPG

 

#SAReads: Make Your Home Among Strangers.

18f32861-b839-4494-af93-859f409ed19d

Today, I needed some time for myself, and I decided to catch up on some much desired reading.  And…I finished my book!

I have been working on Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capo Crucet for a while now, but I finally finished it today!  I wish that I could spend more time reading for pleasure, but wrapping up the school year and searching for a job has been quite the time suck.  Unfortunately, that means that I have put my reading on hold.

Inspired by the completion of Crucet’s novel and by my former supervisor and good friend, Alexandra, who is the author of a blog that features different reading challenges, I have decided to post some reflections of this book and it’s relationship with the world of Higher Education.

Here we go!


 

Make Your Home Among Strangers tells the tale of Lizet, a #FirstGen college student from Miami.  She comes from a low income, Cuban family with their share of struggles.  In an attempt to defy the odds, Lizet secretly applies to a prestigious university in New York.  Surprised by her acceptance to Rawlings College, Lizet chooses to leave everything behind in pursuit of the unfamiliar challenge of university life.

Crucet details the common struggles that #FirstGen, minority, and underrepresented students face when attending college.  These struggles take life in Lizet, and are portrayed clearly in Crucet’s narrative.  As a #FirstGen student myself, I immediately connected to Lizet and found myself reflecting on my own experience.  Challenged in different ways than Lizet, I know what it’s like to move far away from home, struggle academically and financially, and be misunderstood by family members.  I have to agree with Lizet, sometimes it’s easiest to disconnect my world at home from my world at school and live two separate lives.  I think many students struggle with this balance, especially #FirstGen students because they don’t always have the family support at home.

Without spoiling too much of the story, I will just say that Lizet didn’t necessarily have the support she needed from her family back in Miami.  Just before she leaves for New York, her parents get divorced.  Her sister is a single mother working long hours to support her child, and shortly after Lizet moves away, her mother is caught up in a movement to help a Cuban fugitive boy who escaped to America on a raft with his mother, who died along the way.

Lizet’s tale not only chronicles the hardships that many college students face, but also the importance of identity, and finding yourself as you explore your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and passions.  Amidst Lizet’s hardships she found a passion in science, built a positive relationship with one of her professors, and landed an internship.

Perhaps may favorite part of the story is her friendship with a Resident Advisor on her campus.  As a fellow RA myself, I get excited whenever this role is weaved into pop culture, and her friend Ethan sort of reminded me of myself.

Overall, I truly enjoyed Crucet’s novel, and would recommend it as a fun and easy read with content relating to many functional areas within the field of Higher Education.

I hope to keep up on my reading for pleasure and can’t wait to write another post soon!

–Joel