I Love…

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With winter blues and the news destined to make us feel negative, it is a breath of fresh air that we have finally made it to February, the month of love. I am a little biased because it is my birthday month, but I am happy that Valentine’s Day brings us a cheerful holiday to celebrate this winter. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I wanted to share a post about some things that I love, besides of course my family and friends. Hopefully this will help inspire you to step away from the negativity in the world and reflect upon what you love too.

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Source: Cool HD Wallpaper

I love… good health. It is so easy for me to take this for granted because I am healthy on a normal basis. A recent bout of the flu reminded me how hard it is to be sick and how refreshing it is to finally heal and feel better.

I love… cuddling. It is so simple yet so comforting and always brings a smile to my face. If we all spent a little more time cuddling with our loved ones or furry friends, I really think the world would be a happier place.

I love… sunshine. Especially in the winter when it is rare. Now that I am experiencing my first southern winter, I can tell you that it makes a huge different to see the sun regularly even when it is cold outside. The rays soothe the soul and remind me that spring and summer will come.

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Source: Pexels

I love… day trips on the weekends. So often I spend the weekends catching up, cleaning, and preparing for the next week, especially when I am at apartment in Columbia, SC. It is SO important for me to take breaks though, and one of the best ways for me to make sure that I take a break is going on a little weekend escape. Fortunately, Columbia is within driving distance of many exciting destinations. A couple weekends ago my boyfriend and I took a weekend trip to Charleston and it was the perfect amount of time away. We spent the day wandering the streets, feeling more like locals now that we have visited there a few times. We had a delicious dinner Coast, a seafood restaurant downtown. We spent the evening on King Street, going to some of the swanky bars and enjoying Jeni’s ice cream (the best part of Columbus, OH ;)). If you need a break – go on a day trip!! It makes a world of a difference on your next week.

I love… music. For those who know me well, it is rare for me to not have something playing, especially when I am at home. I listen to all genres of music and secretly love to sing along. I often say that my life is a playlist, because almost all hit songs from the past 25 years I can pinpoint to a particular life phase or moment in my life. I have also made a new year’s resolution with my boyfriend to practice playing piano again (I played pretty well for over 6 years when I was growing up). We have practiced a couple times and played duets, including songs from the award-winning La La Land movie and other love stories. A little music, whether listening, singing, or playing, goes a long way in brightening my day.

I love… free time. My yoga instructor recently inspired me to spend more time pausing, not scheduling anything, and allowing myself to simply be. Every week I am working on allowing myself free time to let my mind wander, relax, and do whatever brings me joy at that specific time. The free time helps spark creativity and refreshes me when I go back to my daily routine.

All of these things bring me warmth this winter and brighten my days when they seem gloomy. I hope that Valentine’s Day inspires you to focus on what you love about the world too. Whether it is your family, friends, home, job, new outfit or that leftover piece of chocolate cake in the fridge – we all have something to love in life!

inspirNational New Year

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Catching Fireflies has always been one of my favorite Michigan gift stores. I can always find the perfect gifts for friends and family, as each gift has a personal, thoughtful, and creative touch. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Rochester or Berkley, Michigan, I highly recommend that you visit their stores!

On the latest e-mail I received from Catching Fireflies, I read some inspiration that I wanted to pass along to you. The messages have helped me organize my new year’s resolutions for the year.

Inspiration for a lot of my goals in 2017. “Find what brings you joy and go there” -Jan Phillips. This quote inspires me to make more creative lunches (exciting foods bring me joy and if we eat everyday, why not focus on good foods?). It also inspires me to have more fun working out. While visiting my mom in Traverse City over the holidays, I had a lot fun going to yoga sculpt and cardio barre classes that were very uplifting. I am on a mission to find fun workout classes in Columbia and soon in Greenville after I graduate. I am also creating a bucket list of activities I would like to do in Columbia before graduating – I am hoping for a great last semester full of joy!

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Source: Catching Fireflies

Inspiration for writing and reflection. “Everyday, write down the good stuff. Read it back and you will see a wonderful life.” -Anonymous. I am using this to inspire my blog this year. It is so much fun to share my inspirNational stories and lessons learned, and it is especially fun to look back at old posts and see how I have grown over the years. Don’t be afraid to share your voice too – whether privately in a diary or in blog posts!

Inspiration for my relationships with others. “Kindness matters.” -Anonymous. I am inspired this year to not only be kind to the ones that I love, but also to those I have just met. Kindness heals the soul and helps many of us get through life’s challenges – no matter where the kindness stems from. We all have the opportunity to make a difference in the world, simply by being kind.

Inspiration for my outlook. “Some see weeds, others see wishes.” -Anonymous.

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Source: Catching Fireflies

While I am most often an optimistic, I can be challenged to worry about and dwell in problems until they are solved. I am going to take on 2017 with a positive outlook, and when I am tempted to see weeds, I will remember that others may view my situation as wishes. I hope this little message can inspire you too!

What is inspiring you in 2017? I hope the new year makes all of your wishes come true!

Home for the Holidays

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Happy Holidays to all of my inspirNational followers! I hope that you have enjoyed a festive month this December. With only a couple days left of 2016, I am reflecting on what it has meant to me to be home for the holidays. Over the past month, I have completed my second to last semester of graduate school and have made the long road trip from South Carolina to Michigan, spending time in various cities in between to get together with friends and family. I have been fully engaged in spending time with loved ones, which has been wonderful for me to disconnect a bit from the real world and to reconnect with friends and family who I have not seen in almost a year.

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Traveling throughout 2016 has reminded me of the importance of home. I have absolutely loved living abroad and exploring, but it is even more rewarding when I can go back home to share memories with my loved ones. Home is what helps me relax, reflect, and rejuvenate to learn and grow from my past experiences and prepare for my next adventures. Traveling has also taught me that home is not a place, but the feeling I have when I am with family and friends. This has explained why I have often felt at home, even when I have lived and traveled throughout the world, especially this year. With the feeling of home, then, all of us can experience home at several points in our lives as we move and go to new places. I have found that I feel most at home when I am with my mom and dad since I have known them my entire life, followed by other family members and lifelong friends. As my family, friends, and I have moved and traveled to new places and have had different experiences, we always go back to the “old days” or “how it always was” when we get together. It is such a comforting feeling especially with all the changes we face in our daily lives. My feeling of home as a connection to people has taught me that the people in my life are what matter most to me. I couldn’t be more grateful for my family, friends, and inspirNational followers who have helped me feel at home and have learned and grown with me over the years. I hope that whether you have traveled home or not this holiday season, that you have felt at home by reconnecting with your loved ones. May 2017 bring you much happiness, love, and inspirNational adventures!

Embrace Joy

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With the holidays upon us and the end of the year approaching, I wanted to set an intention for this holiday season. Over the past few days, I have had a few experiences that have reminded me to embrace joy. While Thanksgiving last week encouraged me to pause, reflect, and express gratitude next to family and friends, the Christmas season is inspiring me to embrace joy.

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Source: The Dill Loop

On Monday, I had dinner with my university’s director of corporate and foundation relations, who is like the brand ambassador for joy. She lights up every room she enters, finds connections with those who surround her, and shares joyful stories that express her love and hope for the world. With the life experience that she has, it could be easy to be cynical and pessimistic, but she has reminded me that a joyful attitude can surpass any life circumstance at any age. She has become one of my role models and mentors who I aspire to be like now and into the future.

Last night, I attended my favorite hot yoga class in Columbia, SC, and my yoga instructor encouraged me and the other yogis to find joy in our daily lives. She reminded us that the first step in finding joy is letting go of what doesn’t serve us or what brings us down, and then to be grateful for everything we have. She invited us to set an intention for a yoga practice, which inspired me to set an intention not only for the class, but also for the coming weeks. My intention is to embrace joy. Thinking about the past few decades of Christmases, I have found that this season reminds me each year that magic exists. I think back to my childhood days of making a Christmas list for Santa Claus, singing Christmas carols at school, decorating Christmas cookies, and spending the holidays with loved ones. While many of the traditions have changed, the feeling of magic and joy still remains. So far, I have embraced joy by decorating my apartment for Christmas to help brighten the gloom of taking final exams over the next couple weeks. I look forward to attending a Cookies and Kegs party this weekend for a study break with my classmates. I am trying to find little ways to embrace joy each day to help me get through the daily grind of the student lifestyle before my holiday break begins.

As we all face our daily routines over the next few weeks, I hope that we can make an effort to embrace joy and let the holiday season be as magical as it was when we were children. Regardless of whether we celebrate any of the December holidays, the festivals and decorations can remind us to take the time to find joy in the world around us.

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Source: etsy.com

 

International Education Week – Celebrate with Melibee Global!

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In honor of International Education Week, I wanted to pass along a Melibee Global article to give you ideas to celebrate. International Education Week reminds us to be inspirNational in our everyday lives – to learn from others, to seek understanding, to embrace diversity, and to have a traveler’s mindset.

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Thank you to Kyle Rausch from Melibee Global for the great ideas!

“The fall semester is now underway for institutions across the U.S. and before you know it November will be here, and along with it, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’  International Education Week (IEW)! IEW 2016 will fall on November 14-18 this year, and while many institutions find this a great time to host their study abroad fair or have international student clubs table at the student union, we here at Melibee have been brainstorming more creative ideas for you to try on your campus. Check out some of our team’s ideas below and share how your institution will be celebrating the power of international education in the comments.

1. International Pictionary

Create a simple international version of Pictionary: forget the traditional game board, instead, come up  with some basic categories like “emotions,” “slang,” “daily living!”  Invite students to the game and pair an international student with a domestic student and have them play against another team. Just as in traditional Pictionary, no talking is allowed, but you can throw in the possibility of letting domestic students speak if they only use words they might know in their international partner’s native language. Hang the most culturally-revealing images on the wall in a common area with a photo of the players and their home countries – each with a short reflection on what they learned!

2. World Distance Signage

Do the students on your campus know where you offer study abroad opportunities?  Do they know where your study abroad office is located?  Create a sign like the one in the image with the distances between your campus and your study abroad program locations!  Put it in a high traffic area on campus with a sign that points to your education abroad office.

3. Chopped: International Campus Edition

Put a new twist on the global café concept and instead of simply having international or cultural groups prepare traditional dishes for your campus, make it a competition!  Campus or local chefs could come together to pick out two countries at random and then compete to make a dish inspired by the flavors or traditional dishes of those countries.  The panel of judges could be students…better yet, international students from the countries that are selected!

4. Explore Your Ancestry

We all come from somewhere and it shapes our identity. Short of each of us researching and constructing a massive family tree, there are ways we can ponder who we are and why we are the ways we are. Melibee offers exploration of identity through some unique speakers such as Santos (Glocal Soul Identity in a Global and Local Context),  Michael W. Twitty (Kosher/Soul: Black/Jewish Identity Cooking), and Jennifer Hamady (Voice Across Cultures).  Of course, we offer lots of unique speakers that are ideal for IEW and other events, too. You can see the full roster here.

5. International Campus Recipes

Food…it’s one of everyone’s favorite ways to get acquainted with another culture.  Hence another foodie idea! Capture the diversity of your campus by creating a recipe book to represent all the various countries and cultures on your campus.  Ask for submissions from everyone: staff, faculty, and students.  Encourage them to share their favorite food from another country, the recipe, and what memory is attached to that recipe. Partner with your campus dining services to share the recipes and to cook the food too! Publish the recipes online or in print and sell it for donations to go towards study abroad scholarships. Then you can host an event during IEW that features some of the recipes in the book freshly prepared!

6. Pokémon Go Abroad!

One of this year’s biggest fads is Pokémon Go and there are numerous ways in which your campus can leverage its popularity, even during IEW!  Most campuses are hotspots for Pokémon Go activity, so find out where all the Pokéstops are on your campus and make sure to host some of your IEW events near a Pokéstop and drop some lures to encourage students that play the game to stop by your event.

Many Pokémon are based on wildlife in the real world, and often wildlife that is regional specific.  Host an art or photo campaign (with works created by students) that compares the fictional characters with their real life counterparts and educates students on their native environs.

Have some Pokémon gyms on your campus?  Schedule a window of time where Pokémon Go’s three teams can do battle at one of your campus gym spots with the team who holds the gym the longest during that period of time winning some sort of international prize (think simple international swag: create Pokémon/International themed t-shirts, water bottles, sunglasses etc.)

In addition to some Pokémon being more common or rare depending upon the region you are in, some Pokémon can only be found in certain countries/regions of the world.  Have your students abroad tweet or Instagram the rare Pokémon they’ve caught while abroad using a branded hashtag and the #IEW2016 hashtag.

The possibilities are endless–if you don’t know where to start, ask some students who play the game–they’ll have ideas!  For some of the basics on the game, check out this website.

7. International House Hunter: Dorm Edition

What are student accommodations like in other countries?  Host an exhibition curated by a team of domestic and international students about what residential life is like on international campuses.  Have a photo gallery set up to give your domestic students the insider’s view of what other countries’ residence halls look like compared to those of the U.S.  At each installation, have international students and information about exchange partners on hand.

8. International Dog Fair

Does your institution bring puppies on campus during finals week for stress-relief?  If not–this is a hit with students!  Host a “Dogs From Around the World” event for the dog lovers on your campus.  Since different breeds hail from different countries around the world, you could have various breeds represented by different countries that students could pet and play with, learn about, and couple that with other international information about that country, including your study abroad program opportunities.

There you have it! Eight unique ideas to get your campus engaged with International Education Week 2016! Share you ideas or how your modifying these in the comment section below – and happy #IEW2016!”

Why Travel? Part Nine

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It is crazy to me to think that since my last “Why Travel?” post in February, I have traveled to 7 countries and lived in 3 places. My desire to travel has continued to grow, along with my appreciation for home and what makes a house a home. As we plan the last couple months of 2016 and prepare for a new year of adventure ahead, I wanted to share more inspiration for all inspirNational followers to travel and experience the world, whether you are one mile or one thousand miles from home.

 

As I have said in my Why Travel?, Why Travel? Part Two, Why Travel? Part Three, Why Travel? Part Four,Why Travel? Part FiveWhy Travel? Part Six,Why Travel? Part Seven, and Why Travel? Part Eight posts, there are SO many reasons to travel. Each of the quotes in these posts makes our wanderlust grow stronger. Start planning your next inspirNational adventure!

The Joy of Saying “No”

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Over the past two months, I have been re-adjusting to graduate school, which has been a good test of my prioritization and time management. It has also reminded me of the importance of distinguishing between what I want to do and what I have to do. An exciting new experience for me has been finding the joy in saying “no.” I have been actively working on saying “no” to help myself slow down, not over-commit, and enjoy each moment for what it is rather than worrying about the next moment. I wanted to pass along a few “tricks of the trade” that have helped me say “no” and feel good about it.

  • Set goals that are both professional and personal. Make sure you are balancing your time to incorporate both sets of goals and focus your time on those goals rather than other aspects of life. Regularly check-in on your progress.
  • Structure your schedule by month first, then by week, and then by day. This will help you realize when you may be over-committing at one point of time and will help encourage you to plan for breaks and rejuvenation.
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Appreciate what you have, rather than worrying about what you don’t have and having FOMO (fear of missing out). A grateful mindset will help you look at your life differently and not feel like you have to keep adding more aspects to your life to feel happy.
  • Spend more time being still and reflecting. This has been a weekly reminder at my yoga class, to be still. I have realized that taking time to pause has helped me reflect and recharge so that I can be fully engaged in work and fun.

I hope that these tips will help you slow down and enjoy each day. How else have you found joy in saying “no”?

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest