Sunday, June 24, 2018

An Open Letter to my Senior Year of College




Dear Senior Year,

How do I even start this letter off? I went through so much this past school year, and you really taught me a lot, Senior Year. I finished up my degree in International studies with minors in English and European Studies and it felt like the busiest year yet. Not only was I finishing my classes, but I also had to figure out where to live after graduating and find a job when my status of "student" would no longer be accurate.

Senior Year, I hated you and loved you all at once. I hated that you were difficult and demanding and put me through so much, but I also love you for it because I grew so much as a person. I loved that you reaffirmed my belief that it would all be okay in the end if I tried my hardest and kept my eyes set on my goals, and that you provided the time for me to travel a little bit and see the people I love the most.

It's insane how different you were from my senior year of high school. I thought I would feel similar to how I did four years ago - excited to be done with school and ready to start my new adventure. There were many nights full of tears, however. Tears about all the unknowns in my life, and tears for all of the comforts of being a student I would be leaving behind. I didn't realize how much I love school and learning, or how upset I'd be leaving it behind (for now). It's scary leaping out into a world that's so unfamiliar. The "real world" some call it, but I kind of hate it when people say that.

Nothing about college hasn't been "real" and I feel that name discredits all the hard work students put into their studies, jobs, clubs, or anything else they do. All of those things count in the post-school world, but people seem to think that it's all child's play or that it isn't really hard work. It is, and students have to balance a lot. That's not to say you don't have to balance a lot when it comes time to starting your career, but Senior Year, you taught me to value my experience of being a student and all that comes with it.

Life post-college will be about growth and figuring out further who I am. It's filled with a lot of uncertainty but also a lot of excitement now that I've gone through graduation, and that I've mourned the loss of you, Senior Year. You came and went much too quickly, and it left me with whiplash. I frantically tried to enjoy the year while balancing everything else in my life, and was desperate to feel like I didn't miss out on anything. Through all of that, you showed me who my real friends are, and aren't. It stung, but I realized that not all relationships are healthy or worth the time and effort I could be spending on the ones that are healthy and fulfilling. This made me happier in the end, and I've learned even more about myself.

College started with me moving to a place where I knew no one, and it's ending with me having found a community I love. People were brought into my life that I had no idea about before, and now they've become the largest parts in it, and I couldn't be more grateful to have them. Senior Year, I'll never forget all the trials, lessons, or rewards you brought into my life. I hope that the future is filled with even more, and I know I'm even better prepared for it because of you.

Love,
Kendra

Thursday, February 8, 2018

How my IUD has Helped my Endometriosis

Happy February!

I realized the other day that I've now had my Mirena IUD for over a year - I don't remember the exact date I got it, just that it was sometime in January of 2017. A lot of my friends and coworkers have an IUD or are thinking about getting one, and I thought I would talk about it on my blog since I've mentioned that I have endometriosis in previous posts.



IUD + Endometriosis Back Story

Let's start out in the beginning: when I first found out that I had endometriosis I was 14 or 15 (how has it been that long?!), and my family and I had absolutely no idea what that diagnosis meant. The months following my diagnosis were filled with countless doctor visits, ultra sounds, and even surgery, and finally a treatment plan. I was on birth control pills for about five years before my new gynecologist mentioned I should get an IUD, or at least read more about them.

From my understanding, IUD's were only for women who had already had children, especially since my own mother had gotten one just a couple of years prior. After reading up on them, I realized many women my age - I was 20 at the time - were getting them and foregoing other birth control methods. I was interested, but after years of being poked and prodded, the last thing I wanted was to have a painful IUD insertion. Honestly, I've been in and out of the hospital so many times as a kid, so I'm generally a trooper, but if you have endometriosis, you understand that you can be in so much pain already so the thought of adding even more can be daunting.

The whole reason my doctor wanted me to switch to an IUD was because I get blind migraines, or aura migraines as they're sometimes called. It basically means when I get migraines, all it looks like I can see is the classic "ant screen" on old TV's - all gray and fuzzy. The first time I got one I was terrified I was going blind, but now I can recognize the warning signs and I'm able to get myself somewhere, hopefully my bed, and just sleep off the aura part.

Apparently this puts me at higher risk for strokes when on birth control pills, so my doctor really wanted me to switch to a different birth control method, like an IUD, to reduce that risk. Of course I wanted to be safe, so after a couple of months of thinking, I decided to give the IUD a shot.

I'm not going to lie, the insertion process was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was a baby and had to have my mom in the room with me to hold my hand, and asked the doctor for anti-anxiety medicine to help me calm down. My doctor was really sweet and talked me through the whole process, and continuously checked to make sure I was okay.

Honestly, the pain afterwards once the numbing gel wore off was the worst. I unfortunately cannot take ibuprofen because of a severe allergy, so tylenol was all I could have and it definitely wasn't strong enough. I had extreme cramps for several days afterwards, and I'm wondering if it's because I have endometriosis that I had such a terrible experience the entire week after I got the IUD put in. My friends who have IUD's say that they only really had pain a day or two afterwards, but for me, I had cramping much longer than that.

My parents were absolute saints and made a ton of food for me to have for leftovers at my apartment, so the "healing" process was a little bit better. Like I said earlier, it took about a week to start to feel normal again, and for about 8 months I didn't have a regular period cycle, just spotting every now and then.

In September, right in the middle of my vacation to Disneyland, actually, I got a full blown period. It came out of nowhere, and the cramps were awful. It lasted for about two weeks, and in October and November I had a two week period for each month, again with terrible cramps. In December and earlier this month, I had more of a "regular" period that lasted about 10 days, but still with terrible cramps. My doctor said this was all normal and probably just my body getting back on a regular cycle again. I honestly don't mind the periods since I didn't have one for about five years while on birth control pills. I guess we'll see how February goes!

Looking Back on the Past Year

As far as how my IUD has affected my endometriosis, it's helped a lot. I haven't gotten any cysts that didn't resolve themselves, they've all gone away with time. While I have had horrible cramps again (I had forgotten how bad mine are!), I'm used to it and my cycle seems to be getting more regular. It's nice to not have to remember to take a pill at the same time everyday, something that I was terrible at before.

I am a bit of a paranoid person, so I went into my doctor's office to get my IUD checked out when I started getting my period again. They did an ultrasound to make sure it was in place, and they found no problems with it. I check the strings every month, something I was initially scared to do, (I don't know why) and it's nice to have that reassurance that it's still in place.

My IUD has been great in regulating my endometriosis, and I'm glad to have found a method that doesn't put me at a higher risk for stroke, as many people I'm sure would be! If you have endometriosis, or just want a different birth control method, I highly recommend getting an IUD. While it sucks at first, and is really painful to get, the benefits far outweigh that part. I definitely do have a love hate relationship with it since I get pretty bad cramps again, but that also just comes with having endometriosis and is something I'm used to.

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Getting an IUD is not for everyone, and you should definitely talk to your doctor extensively before getting one. Everybody reacts differently to different things, and not a single solution works for every woman's endometriosis. I'm not saying an IUD is the end-all cure-all to endometriosis, but I just wanted to share how it's helped mine. If you do end up getting one, I hope that it helps!

Do you have an IUD? If so, what's been your experience?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Why You Should be Selfish in College

College can be a strange time in your life - it feels like you're still a kid, but you're also expected to take on adult responsibilities, while at the same time not treated like a full-fledged adult. Tricky, right?


There's so many expectations in college, too. You're supposed to decide what to do with your life, or at least in the foreseeable future, and get your life together when it feels like you haven't even started it yet. When the whole world is telling you GROW UP, it's completely fine to be selfish and focus on yourself, and it's probably what you should do. How else are you going to decide what to do with your future?

At the end of the day it's your future, and you get to decide what to do with it. College is the time where you probably only have to be responsible for yourself, so it's the perfect time to get to know yourself and realize what you want in life. Your late teens and early twenties can be really confusing, so it's natural to take a step back and tell the world to shove it, and do what you want.

Of course, the people who love you are going to want to help you out in any way they can and want what's best for you, but it's still okay to do what makes you happiest. Your twenties especially are the perfect time to start and figure your life out - although you can do that at any time - which fits perfectly with college.

It's overwhelming to choose a major that will possibly affect your entire life, so it's probably in your best interest to focus on yourself. Be selfish and do exactly what makes you happy; take solo travel trips, eat what you want, do yoga - spend your time how you want to. Whatever you feel is going to help you figure out your life and what you want is what's best. It won't be the same for every person, so don't focus on what everyone else is doing.

Take classes that interest you in college, even if people say it won't help you in the future. It's also completely fine to take classes outside of your major if you've already decided on one. Maybe they won't be applicable to your future career, but you'll be learning something new about a topic that interests you, and that's still helpful to your life. It's just as important to foster our curiosity and spark creativity outside of what you're used to. Some of my favorite classes have been outside of my majors and minors in college.

The truth is, none of us know completely what we're doing. Even the most seemingly put together people can have no idea what they're going to do in the future. That's okay. Focus on what you're doing now, and keep your options open for the future. Life is more fun when you aren't following a concrete plan of what you want to do, and oftentimes those plans don't pan out exactly how you would like them to.

Do what you want in college, and focus on what makes you happy. Be selfish and say no to people if you don't want to do something, or say yes even if it terrifies you. Be adventurous, or don't - it's all up to you, and you don't have to justify yourself to anyone.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Simple Ways to Focus on Your Mental Health in 2018

While I was sitting down staring at my 2018 goals in my bullet journal, I noticed so many of my hopes for the year are related to mental health. I thought I would do a blog post about why it's important to focus on your mental health in the new year, and why I'm glad I started focussing on it in the last couple years. Make sure to read my last post, Simple Ways to Stay Grateful in 2018, because staying grateful and thinking of everything that makes you happy helps with mental health, too!


Start the day doing something you love instead of reading or listening to the news

While it's great to stay updated on what's going on in the world, it can also be extremely stressful. Instead, listen to your favorite music or podcast, read a book for ten minutes, do yoga, meditate, go for a run, or anything else that you enjoy. I look at the news after I've done something that makes me happy, and it definitely helps me from feeling immediately down!


Go to sleep early(er)

It's not always possible to start going to sleep super early, but try and go to sleep a little bit earlier than usual so you can get a full nights rest. I'm sure you've heard this tip time and time again, but it's because it's the easiest way to feel better. As a college student, I definitely struggle with this, but on the days where I do get seven or eight hours of sleep, I feel so much better and can function throughout the whole day.


Follow Twitter or Instagram accounts that make you happy

This seems so simple, but I can't stress enough how happy it can make you. I personally follow Thoughts of Dog on Twitter because I love dogs and it never fails to make me laugh. There are countless cute animal accounts, and following them and filling your timeline with cute puppies and kittens can go a long way with helping your mental health.


Talk it out

If you aren't ready to talk to a counselor, reach out to a friend or family member and talk to them whenever you feel stressed. It's scary making that first step to talk to a professional, but it's a lot easier to talk to someone you already know really well. What's really important is that you're just getting any feelings of stress or anxiety out, or at least sharing with someone that you're not feeling you.


Go outside more

If you're outdoorsy or not, going outside and getting some fresh air to clear your head every once in a while is great for everyone. Going on a walk, or if you like to, going on a hike can help so much and get endorphins running


Don't be afraid to be selfish

At the end of the day, the person that matters the most to your mental health is you. This is something that should be obvious, but oftentimes we spend our lives trying to please others, but it's perfectly okay to be selfish and have a day entirely for yourself and doing something that makes you happy. I'm super guilty of this because I like to make sure everyone around me is happy, so a lot of the times I put my own feelings to the side. So many people do this, especially if you have anxiety, but it's important to take a step back and re-center your focus to how you're feeling and how to feel better.

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These are all super simple ways to start focussing on your mental health, which is so important. Since it's still January and the start of a new year, it's the perfect time to think about caring for your mental health. It's never too late, though, and these tips can be applied to any time of the year! At the start of college, I was going through a lot with my family, so I started to focus on my mental health like never before and it helped me push through a really tough time. I still have so far to go, but by being mindful of how I'm feeling - physically and mentally - I've started to feel better.

Staying on top of your mental health means something different for every single person, and it's something that's always a work in progress, so don't get discouraged if you're going through a rough patch. It's just important to do what's best for you, and there's absolutely no shame in reaching out if you need help. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to do so.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Simple Ways to Stay Grateful in 2018

When I was reflecting back on 2017, I wished I had somehow kept track of everything I was grateful of throughout the year, and everything that made me happy. Looking on Pinterest, I saw so many different people who had done this and all the posts they did when looking back at those memories, so I decided to do just that in 2018.


Over the summer, I did a small version of this, and it was great to think about all the positive things that happened, but I didn't set one up for the fall because I was so busy, and I stopped intentionally thinking about the positive everyday. Since one of my goals for 2018 is to stay more positive, I am making it a point to reflect on things that make me happy, and all that I am grateful for. These past few months have been filled with too much negative both in my personal life and in the world around me, so I'm going to take my attitude into my own hands, and focus on the good. I realize this won't 'fix' my bad days, but hopefully it'll make them easier to handle.

Make a special page for it in your journal or planner

As I'm sure all of you know, I have a bullet journal, and I made a point to include a page where I can write down these moments that make me happy and grateful. At first, I just had a simple page with '2018' written on it to indicate a year change, but then I thought it would be cool to slowly fill that page with happy things. So, I started on just that page with a couple moments, and it's my goal to completely fill the page up by the end of the year, and maybe need an extra page or two. I find this way to be very easy to keep track of moments because I usually always have my journal with me, and even if I don't, I know I'll be using it soon and can look at that page and hopefully jog my memory of good moments. I've also been reflecting back on the positive when I set up my weekly spread so I can have all my bases covered.


Fill a jar with little notes

Before going to college, my best friends and I filled up a jar with words of encouragements, funny memories, and our favorite things about each other, and it's one of my most precious items to this day. Anytime I'm feeling down I pull out a note and I always feel better. I've seen people do this for happy memories, and I think it's such a cute idea! Little jars always look so cute and decorative, and oftentimes you set them on your desk and see them a lot. I also just like the idea of being able to randomly pull out a note and instantly be able to remember one of the happiest moments of the year, especially since it can be easy to forget them as your schedule gets busy.


Make notes in your phone

Since you probably always have your phone with you, this is a surefire way of being able to jot down something that makes you happy. I sometimes do this if I'm walking and get an idea or have something I want to remember for later, and then transfer it into my bullet journal. This is also a good way to write something down if you don't have your journal with you. I'm honestly a pretty forgetful person, too, so this helps me remember things a little bit easier.


Take photos of happy memories

If you're a visual person, this is a great way to literally capture a memory. I associate objects with memories, so taking a photo of what I'm looking at helps me remember things pretty well. I think that's one of the reasons why I love my YouTube channel and recording vlogs so much, because I can more easily place myself back in those situations and remember how happy I was in that moment. It's also cool how you can insert photos into iPhone notes, so you can combine these last two tips and really capture the moment. Alternatively, if you have a Polaroid camera, this is a great way to take a photo and have it instantly printed out and you can hang it up on your wall. 

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Focussing on the positive for 2018 is probably something we all need to do, especially in today's world. That's not to say we should ignore all of the bad stuff and not do anything about it; making a point to think about the good helps us have the courage to fight back against the bad. I like to think that change starts with the individual, and if we're all trying to make the world a little bit better, hopefully that creates a bigger wave of change in 2018  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Using my Bullet Journal for the Last Six Months | Review

Happy 2018! I cannot believe 2017 is over - I think it's the fastest year that's gone by for me. It's crazy that this is the year that I'm graduating from college.

Along with a new year came getting organized for it, which included cleaning my room (a work in progress) and setting up my bullet journal. I'll have a video and post up about that setup soon, but first I wanted to have a reflection/review post of using the bullet journal system fro six months. First off, it's crazy to think I've been using it for six months!


As I mentioned in my last post, I've been heavily relying on my bullet journal to stay organized and it's definitely been a life saver for school. Finals week for fall quarter of 2017 was probably the most organized one I've had because I had my bullet journal to stay on track with studying and due dates.

I've decided to break up the review into different categories so it's easier to understand what it's all about, and see all my thoughts about it!

Functionality

This is definitely the most important part - to me - of a bullet journal, or any planner for that matter. Before I started bullet journaling I was using regular planners that I bought from Target or Nordstrom to stay organized, and they worked just fine. I wanted the ability to personalize it more, though, and be creative while staying organized.

I have found the bullet journal system to be very efficient. The "guidelines" are just that: advice on how to stay organized instead of strict rules that make you adhere to the system fully. You can change up the symbols, not use all of them, or stick to the pre-made ones. I more or less stuck to the set symbols of the bullet journal system (read more about those here) and I found them to fit into my planner pretty seamlessly, and they were easy to get used to.


As for the monthly and weekly spreads, you have a lot of freedom to be as detailed as you want. If you want extensive layouts for the week, or different trackers and various pages for the month, you can definitely do that, but if you want to stay more simple that's perfectly fine. I found myself switching between detailed and simple a lot depending on how much time I had to make the spread, and how much space I thought I would need for busier or calmer weeks. During school I have more detailed spreads, but over the summer when it was just work I could do some more simple spreads. Over winter break I didn't bother to have weekly spreads because I was pretty much just working out, sleeping, or watching Harry Potter.

I love the freedom the BuJo's give you for organizing your life, and it makes them very functional. The fact that it also serves as a journal, cost/health/habit tracker, random idea journal, and whatever else you want it to be, really makes it special and convenient.

Personalization

One of the reasons I initially started bullet journaling was so I could have more creative freedom with my planner. I was tired of buying a planner with one "theme" and would get bored of it throughout the year. With my bullet journal, I'm excited to come up with new themes for the month, and I can make them as detailed with doodles as I want. I stayed pretty simple in the beginning and didn't go overboard with themes, and I think this was a good way to go about starting a bullet journal because it wasn't too overwhelming.

One of my favorite monthly themes and cover page!

As with functionality, you have a lot of choice on how your bullet journal turns out and how it's decorated - or not. You can do simple spreads with clean lines, or you can add some doodles and art to it and give it some personality. I really love doing this because I don't have a whole lot of time in college to draw or paint like I used to, so this gives me a creative outlet and a chance to sit down and relax. It's therapeutic sitting down on Sunday afternoon and setting up the week ahead and just letting myself be creative for a bit without the pressure of wanting to create art when I'm not necessarily feeling inspired.

There's a lot of structure to pre-made planners, but with bullet journals you can organize your weeks however you want, and like I said earlier, use it for things like journal entries or lists. I've done this with packing lists before and it's nice to have it cataloged for future use, and it's also nice to have a quick written reflection on months.

Quality

These last two sections are particularly for the bullet journal I have, which is the Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal. I know a lot of people who use this journal, but there's a lot of options out there, especially as bullet journaling becomes more popular! I chose this journal because I like the classic look of it, and it's nice that there's the stretchy cord thing (does anyone know what this is called...?) to keep it closed since I keep it in my backpack most of the time. I'm super impressed with how the cover has held up in my backpack as well, there's not a lot of wear on it at all.

This was all watercolor, and the pages held up really well!

The pages are also thick enough that I haven't had any pens bleed through, only a couple of my water-based lettering pens when I go over a spot too many times with the color. They also work nicely with watercolor, which I use occasionally for monthly cover pages. The dots on the pages are pretty standard, and I don't know if there's much variation between journals that different companies make.

There's also nice folders in the back to put loose paper in the journal, and a couple bookmarks attached so you can keep your place, or mark an important page.

Overall, I'm really satisfied with how this journal has lasted for the last six months!

Another watercolor heavy page that held up just fine!

Cost

Again, this section mostly pertains to the particular journal I have, which I feel is reasonably priced at around $24. I got it on Amazon so shipping was free and it arrived quickly!

For all the other pens I use, I tend to buy them on Amazon as well or at Michael's, which always has coupons to use. I just want to specify that you do not need to buy fancy pens to use a bullet journal; all you need is a pen and journal! You can make it as cheap or inexpensive as you want. I happen to love art anyway so I don't mind investing in supplies for it because I also use them for other projects.


If you do want to buy a lot of cool supplies, I suggest watching for deals at craft stores, and like I mentioned before, if you just search "Michael's coupons" there's always some pretty great ones available to use. Target is also a great option to get markers, and I personally love using the Crayola Supertips markers because they're pretty nice and inexpensive!


I'm really glad I decided to start my bullet journal six months ago, and I'm excited to continue using it in 2018! It's been so helpful to keep my senior year organized, and it's quickly become my best friend and something I use everyday. If you're wanting to get organized for 2018, then I definitely recommend starting a bullet journal!