Getting Motivated and Inspired

One of the worst things that can happen to an artist/designer is to experience “art block.” What is art block? Well, it’s pretty much when you feel little-to-no motivation to create art because you feel uninspired or like your creativity has been drained. Everyone, not just artists, can feel this lack of inspiration and motivation once in a while. It seems like it happens to me more often during the winter as the days seem drearier and I spend practically half the day shoveling my driveway!

For a little pick-me-up during these down times, I like to utilize popular (and free) online sources:

1. http://www.pinterest.com  

Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration for me as an artist. It is also very useful for ideas and DIY’s to help me save money. There’s nothing like a cheap, easy fix to brighten my day. You can create “pin boards” on which you can “pin” your favorite ideas, or save other people’s ideas. You can also comment and share on the site, or link it to your Facebook wall to let your friends know what you are interested in!

2. http://www.tumblr.com

Tumblr is another great site to find inspiration. Believe it or not, I’ve only just started tapping into the inspirational goodness that Tumblr provides. To me, it seems really similar to pinterest, except you get “blogs” instead of “pin boards,” and it seems to be linked into a lot more social media. While pinterest is more focused around DIY-ers, Tumblr seems a lot more random and has a broader audience.

3. http://www.pandora.com

Another thing that motivates and inspires me is to listen to music while I do things. Sometimes, I just play music from my computer or mp3 player, but I usually prefer listening to Pandora. You can pay to get rid of the ads, but I just use the free version. What’s great about Pandora is that your “likes” and “dislikes” actually influence the next song that it will play.  You can choose from different stations depending upon what genre you like. I’m really picky about what kind of music I listen to when I’m in different moods, so it’s nice to have that customization. It’s kind of like having my own personal DJ. Pretty cool, huh?

How do you find inspiration and/or motivation? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments!

Until next time,

Natalie

New Year, New Semester, New Leaf

Well, it’s that time of year again. Happy New Year, everyone!

It is an old and well-loved tradition to ring in the New Year with resolutions like losing weight and breaking old habits, but if you’ve procrastinated, fear not! I’ve compiled a quick list of resolutions you can adopt for 2013!

1. Spend More Time With Family and Friends
As students, our lives are hectic. We buzz from class to class and then spend the rest of the night doing homework. We get so busy that we forget that sometimes we just need a break. Whether it’s a quick text, phone call, or coffee break at Cyberia, it’s important to stay in touch with family and friends. Get creative! Invite your friends to your dorm and have a homework or study session. Get your friends to participate in a school club like Painting Club. Go bowling at the Mine Shaft! The possibilities are endless.

2. Meet New People
Participating in school clubs is a great way to meet new people, blow off some steam and possibly build your resume! There are many clubs to join at Finlandia like Painting Club, The Reflection Gallery, Anime Club, The Bureau of Visible Thought, BSU, and more! If there isn’t a club that meets your particular interest, start one! Go to http://www.finlandia.edu/student-clubs for more information.

3. Contribute to a Greater Cause
Contributing to something larger than ourselves is a great way to enrich our lives. A relatively accessible way for students to contribute is to recycle! Finlandia has a new recycling program in effect this semester in hopes to increase the amount of recyclables and decrease the landfill waste. Every little bit counts, so with every item you recycle, you’ll know that you are contributing to the greater good!

I hope you’ve been inspired to make your New Year resolutions count!

Until next time,

Natalie

Cheap, meaningful gifts.

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My Aunt Sally in the ’60′s getting her Christmas spirit on.

The holidays can be a perplexing time for students. Most of us have little cash to spare, but we still want to give gifts to all our favorite people! Here are some great ideas that allow you to treat loved ones without breaking the bank.

1. Love List.
Grab a jar and a bunch of slips of paper. Decorate the jar with ribbon, cut up magazines, fabric, or whatever you have lying around the house. Write what you love about your friend on the individual slips of paper. Instruct the recipient to take out a slip and read it whenever they need a lift! Feel free to add their favorite candy into the mix of notes.

 2. Host a movie night.
Invite your friends (or your mom), make some snacks, and screen a holiday movie (my favorite is a toss up between Christmas Vacation & It’s a Wonderful Life). Hanging out and enjoying each other’s company (while eating food) is what Christmas is all about. 

3. Cook a meal.
Whether it’s Mac & Cheese or a three course dinner, the gesture of making food is always welcomed. Wait on your friend. Don’t let her get up. Refresh her drink, fill her plate, and enjoy the great company. 

4. Host a cookie exchange.
An intimate gathering of friends and cookies, is there a better gift out there? Instruct all invitees to make or buy some cookies and come on over! Provide cute tins for everyone to take home their sweets in. 

Remember, the best gift is your time! So what if you can’t afford to give away new tv’s and the latest video game? You can’t buy love and laughter and let’s be honest…those are so much better than expensive store bought gifts. Enjoy the holidays, friends! 

–Cait

 

Savoring Life

I have been in college for 7 semesters. I cannot tell you how hard it is to believe I’m about to start my last semester as an undergrad. Everyone says “it will go by so quickly.” I cannot tell you how true that is.

Many times as a student I found myself wishing the weeks and months away. I just wanted to be done. If I could change anything about my years as a student, I would change my attitude. Yes, I realize this journey is stressful and a lot of hard work, but it is a really a beautiful time of life. You get to learn so many new things about the world and yourself. Look at this as an opportunity not a chore.

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Enjoying an early morning work session.

Please please please don’t wish and hope your life away, like I have thus far. It is great to have future goals, but don’t forget there is a life to be lived in the present.

This appreciative attitude can be carried to all aspects of life. I encourage you to enjoy being single or in a relationship. Savor the cold snowy days as well as the warm spring. Relish that awkward time of self discovery and see mistakes as an oppertunity to grow. Enjoy your life. Remember this time is all we have.

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Enjoy the Hot & Ready pizzas. Maybe someday we’ll be able to afford better.

As my 17 years of life dedicated to education comes to a close, I find myself wondering what the next phase will look like. It is way too easy to worry about the future. Will I be successful? Will I find a job? Where will I live? All these questions press on graduates’ minds. I just want to remind you today that you don’t need all the answers. What you need is an open heart, a motivated spirit, and an unquenchable thirst for life. The rest will come. Enjoy the journey friends.

–Cait

Getting situated in the Keweenaw

When moving to a new town, it is always difficult to know where go when your computer crashes or when your bangs are in need of a trim. This can be especially tough when it’s your first move away from home! My first year of college, I would just go back to my home town if I needed to see a doctor or get a hair cut. Trust me, this gets old! If you live more than a couple hours away it really isn’t even an option. So here is my list of local business that will help you with all your needs!

Surplus Outlet (http://www.surplusoutlet.net/)
When moving to the north, you most likely know the winters get pretty cold! The Surplus Outlet will help keep you warm. They carry the best brands. When you buy a product there, rest assured it will last your whole college career!

Aspirus Keweenaw Fast Care (http://www.aspiruskeweenaw.org/physiciansClinics/fastcare.cfm)
Being a frequent sufferer of sinus infections, Fast Care has helped me out in plenty of pinches! I don’t have insurance, so going to the hospital or a “regular” doctor is too expensive for me. For less that $50 you can see a doctor and get the help you need. Also, they’re open until 8:30PM weekdays, which is perfect for busy students who can’t always get away during the day.

Dave’s Auto (http://www.davessuperservice.net/)
I can’t say enough good things about this business!  As someone who knows nothing about car repair, it can be stressful finding a trustworthy mechanic. Rest assured, Dave’s will never over charge.

Regis Salon (http://www.regissalons.com/)
I am extremely picky when it comes to my hair. Thankfully, we have a Regis Salon! They always provide great service and stylish cuts. I am always pleased with their attention to detail and ability to give me the exact cut I want.

Up and Running  (http://www.uartechsolutions.com/services.htm)
Being a graphic designer, I do know a bit about computers. However, I am not a master troubleshooter. So when my CD Drive stops working or my charger dies, I call Up and Running. They are reasonably fast and always fix the problem. I can hardly survive a day without my computer and thanks to Up and Running I don’t have to.

The Library (http://www.librarybrewpub.com/)
If your craving burgers or sea food or pasta, The Library has you covered. This is the best restaurant in town. It has a great atmosphere and a huge menu. The servers are very friendly and food is always brought out in a timely manner. I’ve never had a dish I didn’t love!

I hope my list of local business favorites helps you next time you’re in need. I know that getting used to a new city can be difficult, but knowing where to go when you need a night out or when your sinus are acting up is half the battle.

–Cait

Finding relaxation as a student

Stress is a part of life, an especially huge part of a student’s life. While, we cannot completely avoid it, we can find positive ways of dealing with our dizzying lives. Partying on weekend may be a quick, easy way to relax, but there are plenty of more constructive ways of escape from stress.

Walking one of the sweet pups at the shelter.

One of my favorite ways to relax is volunteering at The Copper Country Humane Society (http://www.cchumanesociety.com/). You can walk dogs on the scenic Nara trails. Or if you’re more of a cat person, you can cuddle dozens of felines in the play rooms. I am an animal lover, but alas my student schedule does not allow me to have a pet. Thankfully, I still get to spend time with furry friends through the shelter. No matter where you live there are always shelters in need of help loving the stray animals.

If you’re not a pet person, don’t despair, there are plenty of relaxing outlets to pour yourself into. I realize as students we are overloaded with assigned reading. However, I have always found a good book to be the best form of escape there is. During the school year I keep my novel picks light-hearted. One of my favorite things to do is to re-read books I loved when I was younger (i.e. Nancy Drew or The Chronicles of Narnia). Getting lost in a book will give your mind a rest.

Me hanging out with Nancy Drew.

Another way I love to relax is by finding a lighthearted blog and reading pages and pages of it. A Beautiful Mess (http://abeautifulmess.typepad.com/) is one of my favorites. If you’re in a major that does not allow you to work with your hands, maybe you should give crafting a try. Visit http://craftgawker.com for thousands of ideas for Do-It-Yourself projects.

Browsing handmade products and local artist’s work is another way I love to “escape.” Thankfully, our community has many galleries! Try visiting The Vertin Gallery http://www.vertingallery.com/)  in Calumet or The Copper Country Community Arts Center (http://www.coppercountryarts.com/) in downtown Hancock. Looking at beautiful work always makes me feel refreshed.

With our long winters, many of us miss out on relaxing physical activity for months. However, it is still possible to get outside even when it’s freezing! Next time you’re stressed and are experiencing that “cooped up” feeling, visit Michigan Tech’s Outdoor Adventure Program. They have tons of rental outdoor gear (much cheaper than buying!).  This winter I definitely want to give snowshoeing a try (and I can for a mere $10). For more information on all the outdoor gear you can rent visit: http://www.mtu.edu/student-activities/oap-wellness/rentals/.

I realize many of these options may seem obvious, but during my first years of college I blew off steam in very unconstructive ways. Getting back to these healthy basics helped improve my state of mind and my health. So next time you’re feeling stressed, pick up a book or pet a dog. Your mind and body will thank you.

–Cait

Knowing when to say when

Asking for help can be very difficult, especially when it means facing fears and pain. As students, our lives can be very stressful and riddled with heartache, grief, and a general state of “overwhelmedness.”  If you ever find that journaling and talking to friends is not enough, it might be time to call a counselor.

When you stop being able to enjoy the beauty in life, it’s time for a change.

In my sophomore year of college I found myself unable to deal with past loses of loved ones, along with the stress of keeping grades up and surviving life in general. Realizing I needed counseling was one of the scariest things I have ever had to face. Trust me, I know how hard it is to make that call. However, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Being able to talk with someone who does not know you, will not judge you, and is not emotionally invested in your life is very freeing. Getting an outside opinion on your problems, life, and self is an eye opening, enriching experience. We tend to judge ourselves harshly and internalize pain. Getting counseling helps you rationalize pain, gain coping skills, and a better perspective on life.

Surmounting your fears and moving through pain will make you feel like you’re on top of the world.

As students, many of us lack health insurance (and money!). Fortunately our local community provides free and low cost support. Finlandia University offers counseling serves. Their scope of services includes, “individual and group counseling, and programming on topics of interest throughout the school year.” Counseling is available to any currently enrolled Finlandia University student. Call 906-487-7277 or visit http://www.finlandia.edu/student-counseling-services.html to learn more.

Dial Help is another great counseling service in our community. They offer no or low cost counseling to sexual abuse victims, those who have been affected by substance abuse, and a multitude of other problems. For more information call (906) 482-9077 or visit http://dialhelp.org/.

If you have been struggling, please know you don’t have to keep going on alone. Our community is full of people who care and want to help. I know it is scary to reach out, but making that call can change your life for the better. Getting counseling was a turning point in my life. Maybe it’s time for a change for you as well. Help is waiting. All you have to do is ask.

–Cait