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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

How Knowing Your “Why” Adds Value to Everything You Do

Did Brandon just completely disregard proper grammar in that last sentence? Actually no because I want to discuss what your “why” is in life and why everyone should have one. (Yes I know, straight to the information with this post. That’s because it’s serious!)

What Is Your “Why”?

So what does “why” mean? Simply put your “why” is the reason you get up in the morning; your “why” is the reason you put in x amount of hours in school or work and don’t mind it; your “why” is what motivates you.

This is often confused with your “what”. (I know, don’t be confused, it’ll all make sense in a little bit and you’ll thank me for it later.) Your “what” is the means you communicate and work towards your “why”. Let’s imagine for a moment your “what” is the car you drive and your “why” is your destination. Here’s the thing, without the destination you’re just driving and wasting gas. When you don’t know your “why” then your “what” gets lost along the way.

Here’s a great video to watch to explain your “why” more in-depth:

 

Pretty cool, right? But do you see what he meant? When he understood why he was singing the song, it became that much more powerful.

Why is “Why” so Important?

“Why” is important because when you know what it is, everything you do from then on is more meaningful, “Because you’re walking in or towards your purpose.” Here is another video to explain the power of your “why” and will literally make you feel as if anything is possible:

 

Alright, go out, run a marathon, and come back and finishing reading because if that didn’t motivate you I don’t know what will! My favorite quote is at the beginning because it emphasizes what I’m trying to tell you, “Be brave enough to write down every goal if you want to, but I’m going to tell you something life is going to hit you in your mouth and you gotta do me a huge favor, your ‘why’ has to be greater than that knockdown.”

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows,” – Rocky Balboa

The world is a nasty place and it will beat you if you aren’t prepared. But as Rocky says, “It isn’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Your “why” is what keeps you moving forward. I’ve been hit square in the face by life numerous times, and it won’t be the last time either, but I continue to smile and live my life because I know my “why”.

What is my “why”? My “why” is being a genuine service to help others solve their problems. My “what” is writing this blog, sharing personal stories, and making people laugh. If I’m not having a good day that doesn’t mean I can’t improve somebody else’s and when I do, my day improves that much more because I am working with my “why” at the front of my mind.

My “why” keeps me going when times are rough and life is kicking me in the gut; my “why” keeps me searching for that job or position in life where I can be a consistent service and help others be successful. So what’s your “why”? What will you use to motivate you through life but also use to fight back when life is sitting on your head and you want to tap out? I challenge all of you to sit down and think about your “why” and “what” and from that point on to do everything with your “why” in clear sight.

The Difference and Verdict on Work-Life Balance and Work-Life Blending

Whether it’s high school, college, or life you’ll have a million and one things to do at the same time and the only way you can stay sane is to learn to balance everything. This is a virtue I treasure because it took a lot of trial and error to learn how to balance school and life but after being an RA I learned how to do it, and quite effectively if I do say so myself. BUT recently my friend Mariah had to throw a wrench in the mix and tell me about work-life blending and everything I knew was flipped upside down. So today I want to discuss the difference between the two and give you my verdict on which I would use.

Work-Life Balance

This is the most common answer most people give employers and friends when asked, “You’re so busy all the time, how do you find the time to…?” and most people would answer with well organized work-life balance. It even has its own Wikipedia page, but what does that really mean?

Let’s look at a scale as an example, an instrument to weigh and balance objects. On one side you can put work and on the other side life and perhaps they’ll even out, which is what people strive for. So when people say they’re balancing work and life they literally mean they go to work, leave it there, and then go home to live their lives and do the things they would’ve rather been doing instead of work and even out the time.

Sounds pretty basic, find the happy medium, call it good, now what is work-like blending?

Work-Life Blending

The less common phrase to most people and I just heard about it two days ago. Yet there have been articles like this one from the Huffington Post from two years ago promoting it in your life.

I’m a very visual person so let’s do another example! How about a blender?! Imagine you’re loading up the blender and your two ingredients are work and life and then you press frappe. (Why frappe? Because it’s a fun word and I want to add a little flair here and there.)

So now you’re left with a mixture of work and life, make sense? Not entirely? Okay, let’s compare the two and I’ll give my verdict.

Which is Best?

As a person who strove for work-life balance most of his life, and after learning about work-life blending, I believe blending is the way to go. Why? Let’s use our images again!

I think my biggest problem, after thinking about the images, is the scale itself. Just look at it, work and life are physically separated. Because they aren’t mixed, life can sit there and look at work and grow more bitter by the day. Additionally, it may not always be easy to achieve balance if you start to resent your work. If that happens it takes its toll on your personal life because it saps the energy out of you and suddenly that work side of the scale weighs significantly more than the life side. Not so much balance there.

Let’s contrast that with the blender. Here you can see work and life are mixed together and when you do find a good mix of the two the joy you receive from one rubs off onto the other. Work should never be something you do to just do it, it should be something that enhances your life and brings you joy doing and when you view it not as work anymore but fun it becomes a part of your life.

The zodiac sign for Libra

A side note: a scale isn’t much fun unless you’re a banker, I’m a Libra and I don’t find it that fascinating, but look at the blender! Have you ever seen these videos? Behold the power of the blender! Okay, rant over.

Here are a few tips to incorporate blending into your life, they are described in depth in the Huffington Post article from earlier but here are the cliff notes:

1. Identify what your values are in life 

2. Build your work around those values 

3. Adjust on a regular basis 

Notice how I said a “mixture” of work and life earlier, not a solution (My science-nerd friends get this) A mixture has visible components and can easily be separated such as salsa and this is so you can re-evaluate your life goals and realign them with work to ensure blending doesn’t turn into workaholism.

It is my belief nothing should ever come in your way of enjoying life, but work can’t be ignored either. It should be everyone’s goal to find work that brings them joy to go to every day and doesn’t make you put your life on hold. If this isn’t the case I suggest you take a closer look at your work-life blending.

I like to believe I do this with this blog. I value being a service to other people and I created this blog so I could help college-aged students or any other readers with their problems. As some of you may have noticed I do frequently adjust my posts depending on what the week looks like or current events and because that’s my life. I enjoy writing the blog and helping people and the feeling I get when I write on here spills over to the rest of my life.

So give it a try, you may just like it and find a new outlook on life.

Why Ignorance Should Never Be Bliss In Today’s Society

First off you should know I always loved the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss!” Why? Because if there is something bad going on and you don’t know about it then you don’t worry. For example, somebody drops your toothbrush in the toilet and you don’t know about it, you’ll just brush your teeth like any other day; ignorance is bliss. Or somebody went to the bathroom and didn’t wash their hands after and proceeded to touch every doorknob on campus (Don’t think I don’t see you sir!) but ignorance is bliss. And now that I’ve fully paranoid and grossed everyone out about their toothbrush and doorknobs, I want to discuss why ignorance can no longer be bliss in today’s society.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not nearly as informed as I should be, but I make an effort to listen or read the news daily to find out what is happening in the world or close to home. Why am I making a big issue about this? Because many students go off to college and have the time of their lives hanging with friends and putting these current events as far as possible from their minds.

But here’s a news flash: CURRENT EVENTS DON’T STOP! They’re current for a reason and just because you put them out of your mind doesn’t stop them from happening and effecting your lives. So let’s take a look at a few things we can’t afford to ignore anymore.

Racism and Gender Inequality

We’re almost 50 years past the Civil Rights Movement and yet incidents of racial violence and hate are still happening in our nation. Within the past year alone we have seen incidents at college campuses such as the University of Missouri and the University of Wisconsin along with the unnecessary use of force by police on several occasions against colored people.

The same goes for gender inequality. From the entertainment industry and sporting world to regular business professions the gender pay gap still persists. To me this doesn’t fundamentally make sense; women outnumber men in college attendance and are quickly becoming the most educated workers but even if they have similar levels of education men are still more likely make more.

We are supposed to be one of the most advanced and evolved nations on this planet and yet we find ourselves still failing to open our eyes to the reality of these situations and act to change them. We can’t brush these issues under the rug anymore because if we continue to do just that, we’ll halt all progress made and start heading backward.

These issues play directly into the other reason we need to stay up-to-date on current events: the impending election and remaining primaries.

Political Candidates

We have, arguably, one of the most important elections for President of the United States approaching in November and many primary elections still remaining. This is one issue nobody should ever take lightly because who is elected will be running our country for the next four years, but the problem remains that many people are under informed and don’t get out to vote.

My friend Jarjieh shared this great article a couple weeks ago about “How non-voters blew it” and it discusses how Republican turnout has been the highest in primaries since the 1980s, but only 17% of eligible voters have turned out. If all eligible voters would have turned out to vote, the candidates in the race for nomination could look a lot different from what they do now. (I just want to point out, before I make my next statement, I don’t care whether you’re a democrat, republican, socialist, independent, or whatever, your political leanings are your own business, not mine.) And I have to agree with Jarjieh when he said, “If you think you can just ‘sit this one out’ or vote for Mickey Mouse, think again. You might be letting hatred and bigotry win.”

We are a progressive country and if we don’t vote we could be taking yet another step in the wrong direction. But in order to vote, one MUST be informed. It’s true, many people do ultimately pick the candidate they would rather sit down and have a beer with, but is that helping our country? We need informed citizens selecting the candidate best fit to run this country or fear further exacerbation of the racism and gender inequality still prevalent in our society.

There are many, many more problems that can be discussed and should no longer be ignored, but the point I want to make is we can no longer sit back and let the “adults” handle it. As we college students come of age it’s now our duty to voice our concerns and help resolve conflicts and problems. If your state still hasn’t had its primary election yet, take this time to do your research and when they day comes make your voice heard. Ignorance shall no longer be bliss until we can learn to be as informed as possible and help move the world to the more equal Eden we have only dreamed of in the past.