Don’t Worry, You’re Right Where You Need to Be

Image result for rolling eyesTell me if this sounds familiar, “Stop worrying, things will happen when they happen.”  Hmm?  Yeah, I thought it might because I was also told that at least one thousand times and I hated it every single time I heard it.  Roll your eyes all you want, but let me tell you something, everybody who told me that was right and I want to explain why you are right where you need to be.

Let me first make sure we are all on the same page if the “stop worrying” line didn’t exactly resonate with you.

You ever question your future?  Ever wonder where you were going to go, what you were going to do and who you were going to do those things with?  Did these questions ever make you question your entire existence and then put you into a crippling and numbing panic attack?  Did I just accidentally make it worse by making you think about those questions?

Well, now you know how millions of people around the world feel everyday, and that’s how I felt coming into college.

High school was hard enough working through my parent’s divorce and my increasing anxiety.  When I would worry about my grades, sports or who I would date, I would seek guidance from my parents and friends who would listen and then tell me, “Stop worrying, be patient.”  Yeah, THAT made everything better, right?  And the problem was only amplified when I got to college, only now it wasn’t just me causing the anxiety attacks.

The cruel irony of the situation was it was your family, friends and relatives now causing the anxiety by trying to question and dictate your life, “What are you going to major in?  What are you going to do with that?  You should do this instead.”  THEN, once you start overthinking and force yourself into a crippling anxiety attack and try to explain to them what you are going through, they turn two faced on you and say, “Stop worrying, it’ll happen when it happens.”  (WHAT?!?!?!?!)

THEN, if you were unsure of your future at that point and felt like your life was spiraling out of control, you start to look at your friends’ lives and see all the things they are doing.  Some are going to graduate school while others already have job offers their fall semester of their senior year while you’re there now paralyzed because you have been comparing yourself to them.

Here’s the thing though, and I want you to really, really read this once and then another time to understand, you are not them.  You are not your friends or relatives.  Your life is what you make it.  You can not let the way somebody else thinks or does something dictate the way you are going to live your life because you are you, not them.

It wasn’t until my senior year when I realized I was never doing anything for myself and I was always comparing myself to my friends.  I finally decided to go against the grain and do my own thing that led me down the path to my future, where I am now a marketing and communications specialist for a livestock feed company, that things started working for me.  But it wasn’t just my senior year that put me on that path.  It was everything from high school through college that put me on that path, I was just busy looking at everyone else to realize it.

Image result for light bulb moment

Call it a light bulb moment.

I say this because I was sitting in my car the other night on my way home from work and I looked up at our state Capital building and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of understanding wash over me.  All along, I was right where I needed to be in life.  I’ll explain.

I didn’t know I was going to work in the dairy industry when I graduated college.  Hell, if you asked freshman year Brandon what he was going to be in four years, he would have told you a history teacher, but life had other ideas and this is meant to show you that you are right where you need to be like I was.

Freshman year, I studied at the agriculture library on campus when many of my friends hated it, but I liked it for some reason.  Sophomore year, I declared my major in life sciences communication because I liked to talk and write, not because of the life sciences.  Junior year, I wrote for a campus newspaper and then interned for Farm Journal Magazine, an agriculture publication.  Senior year, I joined the National Agri-Marketing Association and marketing team and found my job in the dairy industry.  I may have not known it then, but I was exactly where I needed to be so I could become the person I am today.

What’s my point?  As much as it is hard not to do, you need to stop worrying so much about the future, what your parents or friends say, and what your friends are doing with their lives because they aren’t you.  You need to start living for you and open your eyes to YOUR future, not their’s.  The world is trying to direct you in the right direction, but you have to open your eyes and see where it is pointing you.

I know it is impossible to stop worrying entirely.  A little worry is necessary, and that is what will motivate you to keep moving forward.  You may not see this now, but I can guarantee one day you will and for now I leave you with this message, don’t worry, you are right where you need to be.

The 2016 Chicago Cubs: More Than Just a Team and a Game

It took 108 years.  Those 108 years included goats, black cats, Bartman and the Chicago Cubs themselves.  After all of those obstacles, the team finally did it and won the grandest title of them all – the World Series.  But this isn’t about the team that came back in the World Series after they were down 3 to 1.  How their backs were against the wall and they managed to turn it all around at the right time.  No, this is about the people outside of the organization.

Let me tell you a couple stories.  So the Cubs finally made it to and won the World Series.  As a lifelong Cubs fan, I thought that was special, and so did my dad.  I grew up playing baseball with him and both us enjoyed watching the Cubs play.  He was at the playoff game in 1984 when the Cubs hit a then record number of home runs in a game, 5, which would be broken by the Cubs last year.  He had tickets to the World Series that year, when all hell broke loose and the Cubs started to remind everybody they were the Cubs.  He never got to use the tickets.

Then there was 2003, four outs away from advancing to the World Series.  My dad and I were watching, I was in fourth grade and my teacher said we wouldn’t have homework the next day if the Cubs won.  Then Bartman happened, and the Cubs couldn’t pull themselves up.  We had homework the next day.

The years rolled by with other promising teams but nobody who could pull it off.  The lovable losers would continue to “try again next year.”  Then 2016 happened, the Cubs became the best team in baseball with 103 wins in the regular season, several astounding comebacks and heart attack provoking games in the playoffs and the Cubs finally made it to the promised land – the World Series.

Now back to the beginning.  This was history being made, and I was happy, but that happiness grew to elation the next day.  My dad and I were talking about the game the day after they made it to the World Series and he said something that hit me right in the heart.  When the Cubs won the series, he teared up.

This made me realize, as good as the Cubs were this year, who knows when or if they will make it again.  This may be the only time my dad and I will ever get to see them in the World Series together.  So I went home and surprised him so we could watch game 4 together.  The Cubs may have lost, but it was special for both of us and, in the end, the Cubs pulled it off.

One more story and then I’ll wrap this up.  After the Cubs won, I still had work the next day and I wanted to show my pride like many other Americans.  So I donned my dad’s 1984 Chicago Cubs National East Champions shirt and went to work, not aware of the conversation I would encounter.

I went in the kitchen to get some water and a coworker walks in, smiles and says she loves my shirt.  From there we recapped the game and then the unexpected happened.  I watched her glance start to leave mine and her eyes to slowly turn glassy.

She told me her uncle, a lifelong Cubs fan, passed away on July 26 after battling illness.  She turned and looked me in the eyes and said some of his last words were that he would never see the Cubs win the World Series.  A sad reality for many loyal Cubs fans in this world and it took everything within me to keep myself composed.

She continued that during the game, after Davis hit the game tying home run in the 8th inning, she couldn’t do it anymore and had to leave the room because it was too much.  Her daughter followed suit and went to listen to the remainder of the game on the radio in her uncle’s car.  I can relate to that as my heart was racing through the entire game.  She said she woke up the next morning to a note from her husband that said, “Cubs won, this one was for him.”

A wave of relief washed over her and as she got in her car to drive to work, she turned on her uncle’s iPod.  Of the 2,000 songs on his iPod, the one song to come on was John Fogerty’s Centerfield.  Anybody who knows the song knows it is about baseball, a sign from above, perhaps?  She is a diehard Milwaukee Brewers fan, but she said that day the Cubs gained a new fan.

I thanked her for sharing such a touching story and we went on with our days, but I just couldn’t shake her story and my dad.  I know others have stories like mine, and I am not saying because I decided to watch game 4 with my dad or because her uncle was up above watching over his beloved Cubs that they won.

What I realized was this postseason and championship was about so much more than just a game or a team.  It was about the moments they created, the closure people received and the hope this championship restored in so many people.

 

Life Chapter Changes and Why They are Important

Oh, hey everybody…well this is kind of awkward…I know, it’s been awhile but I have an explanation. Life! Life happened and I had to get my ducks in a row and take care of a few things. So let me fill you in quickly from the last time we chatted: I graduated from college and began my new job. On top of that I made the decision to live in an apartment with four women next year…look out Three’s Company and New Girl, they’ve got nothing on me!

So my life is shifting before my eyes as I take on new adult roles, which are mostly new to me, and that’s what I want to talk with you about, life chapter changes! How perfect?! (Some things will never change)

Have you ever finished a book that just blew you away then tried to read another book but no matter how many people recommended it you just couldn’t get into it? This is called book hangover and it is very relatable to life. I can tell you right now, no matter how ready you feel for college or to graduate college you will experience a life hangover. But I want to outline the stages of a book/life hangover and how you will overcome it, let’s start right as you finish the book.

The Finish

You’ve just finished this great book, your mind is blown and you feel motivated to read more books after that. This is what it is like to graduate high school and college and get ready for the next chapter in life. You are excited, motivated and feel all around happier. You’ve selected the next book your friends recommended to you (or college or job) and can’t wait to get started. But then you begin reading the first chapter and you start to feel hesitant to move on from the last book, and this is the next stage.

Hesitance

No matter what, you just don’t feel as though you can get past that first chapter in the new book and you keep holding back and thinking about that last book you read. (For me that was 11/22/63 by Stephen King, read it if you have the time!) In life you will experience hesitance to move on from a good book to another book and from one stage of life to another. You’ll look back at the past stage and wish you were still there, but that does nothing to help you. You don’t grow from sulking in the past, you can only appreciate the memories, move on and create new memories. That’s the last stage.

Acceptance/Hope

Acceptance may not be the best word for this stage, but it’s not the worst either and the same goes for hope. To move from one stage in life to the next, you need to accept the things that happened in the past, or accept that the book is done, and learn to appreciate those memories you made while understanding the next stage can hold even greater things. From that point, once you’ve reached acceptance you begin to have hope that the next chapter will be just as good or even better. (See how I worked the book pun in there?) This is where I am in life right now after starting my new job, hope.

I graduated and was really excited for the next stage in life because it meant life was about to begin. But as it got closer and closer, I began to feel apprehension, and, finally, after beginning my job, I feel hope. Hope for this new stage in life to lead me to new and exciting things and to continue being a service and help others.

I feel this applies to many areas in life and if you are experiencing any hesitation about taking the next leap in life, my best words of advice are to just take a leap of faith. You never know what to expect until you get there. Be as prepared as you can be, but ultimately YOU have to turn the page to start that next chapter and see what you have been missing out on.

My next chapter has begun.

My Reflection on College and Definition of Success

Alright, this will be my final sentimental post regarding college. (probably not, I can’t make promises like that because I’m just a sentimental guy!) But as my last finals week comes to a close I want to reflect on my time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as give you my definition of success.

College was such a fascinating time and much different from anything I was used to. There was less structure, more independence, and no parents. Although I missed my family quite often, I wouldn’t have wanted college to be any different because I learned so much this way. I thought I grew after my first year of college, which I did, but not as much as I did within this past year and I realized this recently so here’s what happened:

Reflection

I made mistakes, I had my heart broken, I stayed up until 6am, and managed to go to class when all I wanted to do was run to Picnic Point and scream at the top of the lungs. But I also had many successful moments, found love both intimately and with friends, and figured out time management and ways to handle stress and anxiety.

I made friends, I lost friends, I reconnected with friends and I cherished every moment I had with them. I learned about myself, what I want, what I deserve, how to love myself, and how to love others the way they need to be loved. I learned it’s okay to be selfish from time to time but it’s also important to remain selfless.

I learned I don’t always have to be correct but I do have to always be humble and kind (Stop, Tim McGraw!). I learned it’s important to look at the big picture of what’s ahead and not every plan will fit in your time frame; patience is a true virtue and you should learn it along with flexibility. It’s okay to cry but never let the negative thoughts get the best of you because you are better than that.

It’s important to study and be academically successful but you can never let those things get in the way of you living your life and being happy. Lastly, do good. Do good in the world, no matter the scale, do good in your home, your city, your state. Do good things and see the benefits you will receive. This brings up my definition of success.

Success

Everybody has a different way of defining success (by the way this is a great question to ask in job interviews) and my definition of success is judged by my why: the number of peoples’ lives I can make better, even if just for a moment.We are all entitled to the pursuit of happiness and I firmly believe everyone should be as happy as possible, but if I see a person needs help realizing this, I will step in.

My goal in life is to improve peoples’ lives as much as I can whether it’s with laughter, service, or just be the person there for them. Have I been successful in college? I’m going to give a qualified yes. I believe I have influenced the lives of everyone I have interacted with here on campus in a positive way, but I will always feel I could do more. I would like to take back the bad times and replace them with good ones, but I can’t, I can only live with them, learn from them, and move on. But I wouldn’t want it any other way because every failure provides me a chance to grow and try again.

Am I successful? Sure. Can I do better? Yes. Will I do better? Absolutely, it’s my life goal after all and I will pursue this in all aspects of life as I move forward. My advice to everyone reading, take the time to appreciate everything around you, it flies by faster than you could possibly imagine, and also, figure out how you define success. This will dictate your motives, your interactions with others, and your orientation on this journey called life. And now I will leave you with this quote to think a little.

“If you’re not making somebody else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time,”-Will Smith

 

 

A Tale of the Death of Cargo Shorts

The weather is finally getting warmer out (well warmish, I’m not really sure what’s going on with the weather because one day I’ll be drenched in sweat opening a jar of pickles and the next I’m putting on my snuggie and refusing to go outside) but spring and summer are coming! This means shorts weather and I want to share a very personal and heart breaking time in my life: the day I learned cargo shorts were not “in” anymore.

I know, I know, a moment of silence for the moderately heavy, extremely useful, excessively pocketed shorts many young men once donned while growing up. I too was like you just last year, what happened to change my mind? A combination of things, a big influencer were my roommates who are in a frat here on campus and kept telling me nobody wears them outside of high school.

Not me, but R.I.P. shorts

The second time came when I was sitting in our Residence Life Office while I was an RA last year and a student was talking with an advisor about fashion. I was just minding my business doing my work when I hear them both agree cargo shorts are uncool now. At this point I look down at my sad little fifth and sixth pockets drooping by my thighs and decided I needed new shorts. Of course I finished my work before they were done talking and I had to take my walk of shame past them.

Pause for a moment, I want to emphasize I’m not anti-cargo shorts, I actually have a deep love for them, and if you still choose to wear them I support you! You go Glen Coco!

Now back to the cargo shorts. Why are people so against them? Some people just don’t care for them aesthetically; too many pockets, they feel weird, and some don’t like shorts going all the way to the knee. Hey, that’s fine, I get it, go find the shorts meant for you. Others just view them as a thing of your past and I guess I get that too.

College is a transition phase between high school and adult life and you will pick up a lot of different things and that could be style. This involves leaving those old cargo shorts at home and buying a new pair of chinos or whatever else shorts are called without cargo pockets. To me, when I stopped wearing cargo shorts it meant I was transitioning to the adult world, which doesn’t mean adults don’t wear them still today, have you ever taken a ride through a rural Wisconsin town? But in my college town, and future place of employment, it symbolized letting go of some old habits and adopting newer, more professional ones.

What my roommates wanted

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t still get to go home and put on those bad boys from time to time and act like a teenager again, but I did realize it was time to let go of some things from the past.

But even with all that being said I still don’t get the appeal. Cargo shorts, even with more material than regular shorts, are less expensive! (Don’t even get me started on Chubbies that’s just too much thigh) Additionally, they provide maximum air flow and optimize your storage capabilities. I sweat through my shorts now more than I ever did with cargos!

Alright, my rant is over. The big takeaways are wear what you are comfortable with, if you like rockin’ cargos, go for it, do you, but also realize college is a transition in your life. You will pick up new habits and lose old ones. This could start with cargos but always remember, home is always where you can wear your cargo shorts.

 

Why Having a Job in College is Important

I bet many of you are asking yourselves, “Is this going to be a sentimental post again?” The answer is yes, yes it is, but that isn’t the only reason for this post. I want to share why it’s good to have a job in college and what it provides you.

Okay, first things first, what obvious thing does a job provide you? Let’s say it together, MONEY! Yes, that’s right, a job provides money which you can spend on other things, what a concept. This was the main reason I was looking for a job when I began wrapping up my first semester of college. Like any other college freshman I wanted to get acclimated to college before I began looking for a job, but I quickly discovered things were expensive here!

You know how it goes, you make new friends and they want to explore the city so you go out to eat a few days a week here or there. You realize you forgot something you only kind of needed back home so you pick it up at a local store anyway because why not. Then you just start to impulse buy and sooner or later, BOOM! You’re broke. It may not be the same case for everyone but this was my case and with zero income to balance out my expenses I realized I needed a job.

That’s when a friend recommended I look into the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. I figured why not check it out…I fell in love. This place was beautiful, they worked with your class schedule, and the staff (This is where I get choked up writing this) the staff was wonderful. Laura, my boss, has basically been another mother to me and I hope to keep in contact with her after I graduate. I’ve worked here for just about three years now, with one year taken off to be an RA, and I’m so happy I did because it did so many things for me, other than money, like help with time management.

Time Management

Working at the Historical Society wasn’t like working at other libraries on campus. At other libraries students can do their homework while at the desk, at the Historical Society that was a no-go. We work on projects here in-between patrons, which some could be more tedious than others, but overall they were good. How did this help time management?

Since I wasn’t able to do my homework while at work I had to plan accordingly for the times I could do my homework. This involved kicking my butt in high gear and allocating more time to study between classes and less time hanging out with friends. With that being said I always made sure to include time to spend with friends because you all know that’s important to me.

Some people may not like the idea that you have to do these projects and sacrifice study time, but to me that was a good thing because it also allowed me time to decompress.

Decompress

Think of it with my mind: how stressful is it to go from class to class getting bombarded with information and then go home and continue to bombard yourself with information? To me that’s just too much and you need time to decompress, find your bearings again and then resume studying.

Many people aren’t the best at doing this for themselves so they just live in the circle of stress. You need this time to relax because you gain better focus then. What was nice about my position, as well as many others where you can’t do homework, is you get that time to stop thinking about school for a little bit and then unwind and decompress from the day. Then later you can get home with a more refreshed mind and get your work done.

(I want to share another memory/story because that’s who I am. I started working at the Historical Society in January 2013 and it seemed every day I worked it would snow. Not blizzard snow but nice, appealing to the eye snow and I had this one spot I loved to go to and just watch the snow fall for a minute in our north pamphlets. There was nothing special about the view because the part of campus it faces is always under construction, but it was a secluded area where I could watch the snow fall momentarily at night with the lights shining down on campus. It was just peaceful. This scene always calmed me down if I was having a rough day and I’m going to miss it.)

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Nothing special, but it was special to me

Okay, sorry, that’s over, my next point I want to make is a job during campus allows you to see yourself grow, even if you don’t think you are.

Growth

My first semester at the Historical Society was filled with uncertainty: am I doing this right, where does this go, who is that guy and why are the doors ringing? I thought I was making an utter fool of myself but I guess I wasn’t because they let me come back. The next year I was given more trust by working night shifts alone and I could see my confidence rise. After my year off I returned because I missed Laura and the work and that’s when I knew I had truly grown.

As a freshman I probably still would have been reluctant to cover someone’s shift or take on more responsibility, but as a senior I wasn’t afraid of these things anymore. Through my work there, and as an RA, I could see my confidence grow in customer service and with handling a new task. It has been a humbling experience to realize I am getting older and maturing professionally.

My time here is coming to a close and it deeply saddens me as I type this but I know I’ll never stray far and always be able to come back and feel that magic again in the winter time. Thank you, Laura, for everything, I look forward to our sports talks and get-togethers in the future.

 

Why Everyone Should Reminisce from Time to Time

Yes, I know, when I think of reminiscing I get all emotional too and this is going to be my first emotional post in a short series as I lead up to graduation in a little over two weeks, so bare with me. With my class load winding down and graduation approaching this realization has been creeping up on me slowly and suddenly it’s grabbing me whole. Even writing this right now I’m feeling a little choked up but it’s okay because that’s what I want to discuss today! How perfect is that?

So reminiscing, what’s that all about? Some people will say you’re living in the past but to me it’s about conjuring up old memories and emotions, laughing with your friends, and keeping those memories alive. For those who’ve been following my blog you know that is one of the most important things to me, laughing. But with the good also comes the sad and those memories are just as important, why? Because they stop and make you think.

People get so busy they forget where they are or how they got there, but when they start reminiscing it stops them in their tracks and think, “Wow, it’s been that long, how did we get here?” I like to remember the entire journey and keep in perspective the hard work I put in to get where I am now. But, most importantly, reminiscing the good and the bad help me remember where I came from and keeps me connected to my old friends, respectively.

Reminders

In my life I have a lot of proud moments but also moments I wish I could live over again, but unfortunately I can’t do that unless time travel is invented in the future…(No? Nothing yet? I guess they’re still working on it.) But would I really want to relive those moments over again? I don’t think so.

Those moments made me who I am and they remind me of what I’ve gone through to get to where I am today. I am the first to admit I’ve made mistakes but I will always learn from them and push forward. I try to remember these sad memories because of one of my favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” Since these memories are at the front of my mind I will always remember them and never make the same mistake twice.

But reminiscing about the good memories is also important because it helps you reconnect with old friends.

Reconnecting

Sadly I’ve drifted away from many friends in my life and that happens. People get busy with life and don’t have the time to just get together like they used to. But that doesn’t mean people stop talking altogether. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll recount the story about the time my friend Ethan and I attempted a rolling switch in a car. I jumped out, he didn’t, and I hit the ground trying to roll, more like flopping, and proceeded to catch up to the car for both of us to almost wet ourselves from laughing.

Tyler, Me, Ethan, Jarod at High School Graduation

That story brings up so many other memories from high school and I then begin reconnecting with my friends. We were young and we were stupid and we made mistakes, like trying to switch in a moving vehicle. We learned from these moments and can look back and laugh at ourselves now but the point is we end up laughing together. When we do get together we pick up right where we left off and it’s like nothing ever changed.

The message to take from this post is to take the time to reminisce. Don’t get so caught up in what you’re doing that you forget about your past. Cherish the good and the bad, remember where you came from, and take the time to stay connected with old friends.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Reasons You Should Listen to Jazz Music

This post comes at a sad time in many peoples’ lives, specifically those with deep affiliations and love for the music industry; yesterday the music artist Prince died at the age of 57 years old. We’ve sadly lost another great artist to the ages in 2016, but they’re never truly gone. They will live forever in our lives through the music they’ve made and the impressions they left on the world, and that’s what I

R.I.P.

want to discuss with you today, the music; specifically jazz music and why you should all try to listen to a little more.

First I want to clear the air around jazz. What I’m assuming you think of immediately when I mention jazz is elevator music. You know pianos, slow beats and few vocals, if any. But jazz is so much more than that! Last semester I had the privilege of taking a class titled African American Music since the 1940s, a class I wanted to take since I was a freshman in college, and I learned so much about music and how it ties into not only our lives but the events of the world around us.

What I discovered was yes, jazz can be that elevator music, which I personally love, but it’s also a musical impulse which shapes music around the world. What constitutes the jazz impulse? There are actually two different parts needed to make up the jazz impulse: 1) clarify the realities of the world around you and see what they really are, and 2) envision the possibilities in that world. That last part is crucial because for something to be considered jazz it needs to be new or shown in a new light, this is why many rap artists are considered a part of the jazz impulse because they see things a different way and make music differently.

These artists are right up there with the greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and this brings me back to Prince who was once referred to as the heir to “The Duke”. Prince’s music brought in a funky sound and challenged many social norms of the time. He was a talented vocalist and instrumentalist, which could make some tracks hard to listen to, but that is the first reason you should listen to jazz.

It Challenges You

Some jazz records are just plain hard to listen to with the cacophony of noises and everything going on. To me this is a good thing because it challenges your ear which also challenges your mind which is like any other muscle in your body and if you don’t work a muscle it won’t grow. Listening to jazz causes different areas of your brain to be activated, for the first time in many peoples’ cases, and this challenge causes you to think more critically as well as creatively, according to Psychology Today.

Once again, as with any other muscle, once you break through a barrier and the muscle doesn’t feel as sore any more the exercise starts to be less work, one might even say fun!

It’s Fun

As challenging as it may be to listen to some jazz, once you develop an ear for what you’re listening to you start to realize it’s fun to listen to, and what are the benefits of having fun? That’s right! Less stress, and you all know I’m all about making things are stress-free as possible. I listen to jazz a lot while I’m studying or writing a paper and I’ve never felt more cool, calm and collected than in those times.

Much of jazz music is also based around improvisation so musicians will start in one place, then drift off to another world, and eventually make their way back and finish. Much of jazz music is trying to be optimistic and seeing the world as it could be and for many musicians that is a peaceful and happy world so listening to jazz should bring both of those things, peace and happiness.

These are all great things I cherish everyday because I like to be challenged while also having fun and being stress-free, but to me I think the most important aspect of the modern day jazz impulse is helping me think about things differently.

Think Differently

Before I took my music class last semester I never thought I would listen to jazz music for fun and I certainly never thought I would listen to the many different rap genres there are. I found a love for gangsta rap in Public Enemy and N.W.A. because when you listen to their music, AND the lyrics, they’re telling a side of the story never heard before. But I also started to enjoy Prince and Jimi Hendrix and Duke Ellington because they were developing new sounds and ways to play the music before anyone else.

Louis Armstrong

They saw things differently and weren’t afraid to take the dive into the unknown and be the people to say, “I did that first.” Of course for many jazz artists they were so far ahead of their times they never got to see their music go big in their lifetimes, but the point remains, they stand as testaments to not be afraid to challenge social norms and try to create something new.

One of the biggest weapons in this world, in my opinion is to have a stress-free, creative mind that isn’t afraid to challenge societal norms. With this winning combination who knows what could happen.

So now I challenge you to try out some jazz on Pandora or Spotify or even YouTube to just get a taste. You may just like it and discover new ways to do your homework or confront a problem.

 

How to Focus when it’s the Furthest Thing from your Mind

Hey everybody! So it’s been about a week since I last posted and I offer my apologies, I’ve been exceptionally busy! Let me fill you in a little bit: last week I was in Kansas City where my National Agri-Marketing Association team took first place out of 30 teams, I’ve had job interviews, and I’ve had a lot of work in class for my final three weeks. On top of all of that spring is finally here and the nice weather coupled with my senioritis (which is in full effect) have made it exceptionally hard to focus lately.

Our National Champion Team!

With so many distractions around us, what can we do to maintain our focus? For all of my fellow seniors or students having an increasingly hard time focusing, I want to discuss what you can do to get your focus back and maintain it.

Allocate Time Slots

Studies show you are more productive at certain times of the day so you should plan to do your most intensive tasks during this time. I remember last semester I had to write a paper during finals week and I hadn’t started it, so I planned to write it the next day because I am most productive between 9am and noon. The next morning I woke up, ate breakfast, had my coffee because nothing was getting done without coffee, and sat down to write.

In a matter of three hours I had five of the seven necessary pages written and I was able to finish it up the next morning to receive my A. With that being said, my time slot may be different from yours, it all depends on your personal preferences. One of my roommates can do all of his work at 11 o’clock at night and another at one in the afternoon, you decide what works for you.

Work-Life Blend and Educated Breaks

I’ve done posts about these two in the past but I think they are increasingly important to maintain focus specifically when it comes to nice weather distractions. Work-life blend, as I explained in this post, involves blending your work and your life together with each improving the other’s quality. But I also mentioned in another post how the sunshine can improve mood so I promote people working outside, successfully blending the nice weather and work so you feel like you’re getting work done and enjoying the nice weather without the feeling of laziness.

But in the same post I emphasized educated breaks. A person can’t sit there looking at the same problem over and over hoping the answer will come to them. Some times the best thing you can do in these situations is take an educated break. You know your body better than any one else and you know when and for how long you should take a break plus educated breaks increase our performance and attention, always remember that.

Self-Control and Phone Use

Although I can promote these effective ways to maintain and improve focus, it means nothing if you can’t control yourself. This includes using your phones. I was once told every time you do work and stop to check your phone it takes 15 minutes to get your focus back. Think about that and then think about how many times, on average, you check your phone per day, don’t worry I’ll wait. Give up? I’ll tell you then! The average person checks their phone 110 times a day! Now let’s do the math and if you checked your phone that many times per day you would spend 27.5 hours attempting to regain focus.

Now that is a bit extreme and I like to believe we have more control than this especially at work, but the point stands, you lose a lot of time checking your phone while doing work. You need to use self-control with your phone and that may even mean using one of these cool apps that helps do so! These apps allow you to look at your cell phone usage, what apps you use the most, and even allows you to set time limits to “unplug” and not worry about your phone for that time.

With some self-control, some personal understanding of your own study habits, and a little bit of willpower, you’ll be able to regain your focus and be as productive or more soon enough. Good luck and let me know what you do to keep your focus with distractions everywhere!

Student Orgs and the Benefits they Provide You

I did a post back in February, you remember February, right? Cold, snowy,
miserable? Well here in Wisconsin April looks and feels a lot like February again and We’re all sick of it! But rant aside I wanted to bring up my post again because talked about joining student orgs to help pass the time, but now I want to delve a little deeper and explain the benefits they can give you.

Relevant Work Experience

When you begin looking for jobs you’ll find a lot, and I mean a lot, of places asking for x
number of years of experience before applying. In many cases your summer job at the golf course or as a custodian won’t be able to provide that much experience in a marketing position, so you have to find it somewhere.

Good places to start are with your course work but that can often be too structured and not mimic what an actual work setting would be like for your potential career. Student orgs can often provide this outlet to truly experience what your field is like. I wanted more experience in marketing outside of the classroom so I joined the National Agri-Marketing Association and it has showed me what it’s like to be on a team with creative and motivated people and see an entire marketing plan come together under similar real world situations.

They can boost your resume and help you weed through what you may want to do in life. But they can also do so much more, like expand your circle of friends!

More Friends

What’s better than having more friends to laugh and hang out with, not much I’ll tell you right now! I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many new and interesting people through student orgs that have helped me grow and think about things differently and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

On a related note, networking is very important for finding jobs and even just getting help with homework or a project in general. So you get more friends plus more resources to help you be successful and for you to help them be successful because everybody brings something to the party!

Although they can be a lot of added work on top of your already busy schedule, you do get to reap the rewards at the end!

Perks

Today I am traveling to Kansas City where my org will be presenting our marketing plan in front of a panel of judges and against other collegiate level teams. How cool is that? We get to travel and see different parts of the nation for almost a week while others are sitting in class! In addition I’ll be in nice 60 degree weather and enjoying every minute of it.

Travel doesn’t happen in all student orgs, but there are still other perks like the cool “swag” you can receive. Most orgs have t-shirts for everyone to wear or key chains and bottle openers you get for joining. One of the coolest things I ever got was a pint-sized glass and a can koozie from the Badger Herald when I started writing for them.

Who knows what you’ll get for joining the org of your interest but that shouldn’t be the only reason to join. You’ll receive experience you won’t find anywhere else and memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t wait until your senior year to join one, check out your university’s student org page now and start planning for next year.

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What a good looking team! Wish us luck!