10 Things About Senior Year and the End of the Challenge

It’s Day 40. Wow. The time has really flown. I’ve pre-scheduled this post (I’m in Atlanta at the moment!) and will write a longer reflection on the Worry-Free Challenge when I return home. I wrote this post mid-September 2014, and I think it’s only fitting to post it now as the semester has drawn to a close.

10 Things I Want To Remember About Senior Year

1. The thrill of moving off-campus and living (almost) by myself for the first time. The excitement and nerves the first few days. How proud I was cooking my first few meals.

2. How much I’ve grown since freshman year. My first semester here was exciting, stressful, and full of pressure I put on myself. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I know in five years, I’ll look back and laugh at my silly self for thinking I know so much more. I want to remember senior year as slowing down, breathing in, taking time to assert myself and to stand up for the right things. I want to remember not being a pushover.

3. I want to remember working my ass off and falling asleep, exhausted, so grateful for my quiet room. I want to remember looking on at some of my best work of my college career in journalism. I want to remember pushing my limits and taking risks.

4. I want to remember all the times friends and family have pulled me out into their circle and said, through their hugs or sitting through hours of talking, “Hey, I love you. You are a valuable person and your accomplishments do not make up who you are.”

5. I want to remember all the chats over late-night tea with my dad. I want to remember the stories he’s told me hundreds of times about being an entrepreneur, of not being afraid to fail, that there’s no shame in working hard at something difficult, and failure does not mean you will never succeed. I want to remember drilling anatomy with him, of us laughing over stupid mnemonics, of me saying, “The future is terrifying,” and of him saying, “You’ve been at the top your whole life. I have no doubts that you will succeed at whatever you want to do.”

6. I want to remember all the times when I called my mom and vented, and she listened and gave me the truth. I want to be grateful for her help, for helping me live where I am today, for supporting me and letting me do my own thing. I want to thank her for inheriting that stubbornness, that classic Irish bulldog that is in me, however faint. I need that spirit now. I want to remember: “This too shall pass.”

7. I want to remember quashing my fear and taking risks. I want to remember throwing myself out there and pitching myself. I want to remember being proud of everything I’ve accomplished. I want to remember this belief in myself that has never felt so concrete before.

8. I want to remember this year as a healthy year. I want to look back and say, “Hey. You really took care of your body this year. You put your health first and your older self will thank you.” I want to remember making a conscious effort to breathe, meditate and be thankful every day, because the health of your mind is just as important as your body.

9. I want to remember time spent with those I love. Regardless of where we are in the future, whether we’re together or apart, I want to remember everything with laughter and grace. I want to remember staying up till four a.m. being goofy, hanging out and playing Kan Jam, looking at farm animals and staring in awe at the countryside. I want to remember the sunsets that are so beautiful I want to squeeze my eyes shut and make me remember the first time I walked home with my first group of college friends. That sunset made me feel like I belonged here. I want to remember when my friend visited and we drove through the mountains, talking about life and how fleeting and scary your 20s are. I want to remember making stir frys with my boyfriend in the wee hours of the morning, of waking up to the sound of pouring rain next to him, and being grateful for the bond we’ve shared, being so thankful that someone has seen into who I am and still loves me.

10. More than anything, I want to remember all the good times. I want to have stories to tell my kids someday about my amazing college experience. And it can’t be amazing unless I make it happen…so this year, I want to remember making it happen.

Day 40 Mantra: Make it happen.

Finals Week Playlist 2014

Day 39 Mantra: Blast some tunes and hang in there.

Keep your head up and push through finals week! (This is my last finals week ever of my undergraduate career. Craziness. That is an awesome feeling.) Here’s what I’ve been listening to (aka the songs that get stuck inside my head, for whatever reason.)

[polldaddy poll=8513710]

“Centuries” – Fall Out Boy

“Geronimo” – Sheppard

“Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift

“Lips Are Movin” – Meghan Trainor

“Blank Space” – Taylor Swift

“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

“Immortals” – Fall Out Boy

“Fireball” – Pitbull ft. John Ryan

“Shut Up And Dance” – Walk the Moon

And if you can’t decide what you want to listen to…you could always listen to the 2014 United State of Pop Remix:

College Playlist: Year Three

This is a continuation of the College Playlist series of posts, covering my second year of college. You can find the first post about year one here, and the second on year two here.

Day 37: After reflecting on my junior year…”You can do hard things.”

Fifth Semester, Fall 2013

Junior year…well, this was probably my toughest year in college. I was knee-deep in biology and physics work, and even though I loved it, I totally needed a “going to battle” playlist before exams. Roar was a vital part of my pre-exam ritual.

Roar – Katy Perry

This semester involved way too much analyzing and over thinking. Here are some of the highlights of the songs that got me through it.

Brave – Sara Bareilles

Lucky Strike – Maroon 5

I remember listening to a lot of Maroon 5 in the shower. Specifically, this song. Blasting it.

Giants Sleeping – Koji

I saw Koji perform for the second time at a basement show in New Paltz in October 2013. Koji is an amazing singer and songwriter — he speaks from the heart and encourages his audiences to be kind and building community. His shows bring people together. I remember when he sang this, and the crowd joined in, singing the choruses together. I absolutely love this album. It gave me strength and courage to get through a really hard time.

Sixth Semester, Spring 2014:

Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars

I went to a friend’s house in the New Paltz countryside to watch the Superbowl. (I’m not a huge football fan, but when I was younger, I would frequently get sick the weekend of the Superbowl, so I’d watch it anyway.) Bruno Mars blew me away with this performance. This song makes me think of leather couches, snacks, the horse farm outside and the crisp winter air before we hustled inside to watch the game. The video below shows the full halftime show — Just the Way You Are starts around 10:08.

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

I saw Imagine Dragons live at the IZOD Center in March 2014! They were awesome. I remember being scared of the stadium seating (I was incredibly high up) and in awe of the gigantic drum they used. It was a great set — like a giant sing-a-long.

Third Summer, 2014:

This was the summer defined by taking human anatomy and physiology over the summer! Haha. I did make some time in between sessions for fun — I saw The Backstreet Boys and Avril Lavigne live at Jones Beach on Long Island. The two best songs in the show? 90s throwbacks, including these two.

Sk8r Boi – Avril Lavigne

Avril, my Canadian punk rock name-twin, sounded amazing live. Just incredible — way better than any recording or televised performance I’d seen her in. Her range was so broad and just super fun. She was energetic and the crowd went crazy to this hit. I know it reminded me of summer days at the beach.

Everybody – Backstreet Boys

I couldn’t find the medley version, but this was the base for their opening song at Jones Beach in 2014. Suits + BSB + major nostalgia = an amazing time.

Rude – Magic

The first time I heard this song, I was driving home with the windows down after grabbing a meal with friends. It reminds me of summer sunshine.

Overcomer – Mandisa

Okay, confession time: I know this song is way more uplifting for much more dramatic situations than mine! The woman is battling cancer, for crying out loud. My problems are nothing. Let’s just say A&P I & II was an exhausting time in my life and I could use any peppy and uplifting songs on repeat. Forever. (Whatever it is you may be going through, I know it’s not going to let it get the best of you.)

Classic – MKTO

This song was on repeat for me in August. LOVE it. LOVE LOVE LOVE. (Okay, I’ll stop shouting now.)

Year 3.5 is coming soon!

College Playlist: Year Two

This is a continuation of the College Playlist series of posts, covering my second year of college. You can find the first post about year one here.

Third Semester, Fall 2012

I look back on my sophomore year fondly. It was a lot of fun, stressful, loving, and I lived with girls who became my college family. Our frequent dance sessions in our obnoxiously large common room were always a good time. We’d turn off all the lights — except the flashing Christmas lights — and act ridiculous. I mean, we always did act ridiculous, but this time we did it with music.

Gangnam Style – Psy

We’d work up a sweat to this hit before belting out the other top 40 hits.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0

Mean – Taylor Swift

Sometime in the early fall, New Paltz was scheduled for a hurricane. After Irene (which resulted in a campus- and town-wide blackout for several days, effectively canceling one of our first weeks of classes and making school “camp”), we battened down the hatches and waited for the storm to come. We might have belted out this out a window wearing a Viking hat with horns. Who knew Taylor could be so primal?

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYa1eI1hpDE[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYa1eI1hpDE

Fourth Semester, Spring 2013 

This winter had been really tough on my family. I don’t remember listening to any music during this time. I only remember the good times — so I’ll include some more favorites from our dance sessions here.

International Love – Pitbull ft. Chris Brown

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdXesX6mYUE[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdXesX6mYUE

I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNoKguSdy4Y[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNoKguSdy4Y

Feel So Close – Calvin Harris

If any song defined my sophomore year, this was it. My suite mates and I would belt out this song at each other. (To get the full effect, you’d have to imagine us incredibly out of key and practically hoarse from screaming.)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGghkjpNCQ8[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGghkjpNCQ8

Second Summer, 2013

I sometimes joke that I peaked in the summer of 2013 and my life is all downhill from this point. This was “the” summer, probably one of the defining moments of my college experience, and one of the best summers of my life so far — quite possibly one of the best summers of my life ever. I had been accepted as an ASME intern, was working at Woman’s Day as a health editorial intern, and living with five other interns who became my summer family. Since I was the only native New Yorker, we toured New York, ate tons and tons of delicious food, and celebrated our magazine successes. It was an amazing time. I’m so thankful for the opportunities the program gave me. I will never take the experience — or living right off of Union Square — for granted. Here are some songs that always remind me of the good times.

Sonsick – San Fermin

We saw San Fermin at Webster Hall during one of the first weekends of the summer. I’d never been to Webster — we walked down the Bowery and I remember thinking — wow. This is it. This place is so famous for all the amazing musicians who have played here. Think of the history! Think of the music! San Fermin was just starting out at the time. I remember their songs as hauntingly beautiful. Here’s one of their better-known songs — one they played that night. Walking home, we were so exhausted — but it was so worth it.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld81Y6Em3NM[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld81Y6Em3NM

Pompeii – Bastille

Before this song got wildly popular, I remember thinking — Bastille who? I listened to this song on my friend’s computer in our NYU apartment, above Duane Reade on 3rd Ave, and I was instantly hooked. (But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all?)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F90Cw4l-8NY[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F90Cw4l-8NY

Breezeblocks – alt-J

This song is creepy. The music video is beautiful. You have to watch it for the full effect. In this age of fast-forwarding and instant clicks, this is one video I’d still sit through. (Sorry, short attention span.) I saw this for the first time when I heard Pompeii.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVeMiVU77wo[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVeMiVU77wo

Hall of Fame – The Script

This was the year I roadtripped with friends to Hershey Park, Pennsylvania to see the Mixtape Festival. We saw Train (a longtime dream of mine), Hansen, Gavin DeGraw (amazing live!!) and The Script. The Script blew me away — they’re incredible live. The lead was a few feet away from us in the bandstands at one point in the show.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk48xRzuNvA[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk48xRzuNvA

College Playlist: Year One

The creation of this playlist threw me, head first, into nostalgia about my college life. Here are some songs that I believe make up my college experience. These songs make me laugh when I remember a time I was being goofy, make me nostalgic for the beginnings of my college career and friendships, and make me remember how, despite the roller coaster of my college experience, I survived. I hope you enjoy this journey. I’ve done my best to write explanations of songs, and what they mean to me, but I don’t think I’ll ever truly capture that. Some simply remind me of a mood, or a mantra I’ve had in the past — they’ve all been a part of me in some way, and I’m thankful for music that helped my mindset.

Day 35: Beginnings are scary, but they’re also beautiful. Don’t be afraid.

Orientation – Summer 2011

Survivor – Destiny’s Child ft. Da Brat

I had a solo during lip sync of orientation. SUNY New Paltz has orientation groups perform lip syncs (essentially, song/dance numbers that can be silly or elaborate, usually both! Here’s an example from 2012.) I remember my parents saying they were really surprised I came out and had a little dance solo. It was a little thing, but it was one of the first steps I took to becoming more outgoing in college. I started putting myself out there and worrying less about what people thought of me. It was pure fun. (Side note: Orientation was probably one of the most exhausting, exhilarating and amazing moments of my life! I remember meeting Melanie Kaplan (my two-year roomie, still my bud and now a Disney College Program vlogger) in the Lecture Center during one of the mandatory lectures. We had to sit for hours to listen about campus safety…and then we’d be herded to Hasbrouck to eat. Again. And then have some sort of bonding sesh with the other freshmen at night. When I look back on it, it’s all so organized and bizarre…I had a lot of fun, though. I barely slept (huge thunderstorm the first night, and I was too nervous to sleep), and came home full of stories and full of New Paltz pride.

First Semester – Fall 2011

Someone Like You – Adele

Composition I & II are required for New Paltz students as part of the general education requirements. I had credit for Comp. I already, so I headed straight into Comp. II. This is still one of my favorite classes I’d ever taken at New Paltz — he was a genuine, irreverent and kind professor who engaged his students with great literature. One of my first college essays was on the science of barefoot running for his class. One of the running jokes during the course was how Adele’s “Someone Like You” would play in the background of his dream as he shopped in a grocery store.

Master of Art – Laura Stevenson & The Cans

I first started listening to Laura Stevenson in September of 2011, thanks to the suggestion of my boyfriend. This was around the same time I discovered Spotify — I made a giant playlist of her songs and listened to them on repeat. I saw them perform live in September and the show was amazing. I was two feet (if even!) from the stage. This song — it’s romance, it’s patience, it’s kindness and new love.

The Credits to The Royal Tenenbaums

I believe I saw this movie in late October/early November. The credits make me smile. Pure memories of the movie playing in a pitch-black room. Looping music. Late night conversations.

Second Semester – Spring 2012

All In – Lifehouse

The entire album Smoke & Mirrors deserves an honorable mention here, because I listened to it on repeat during winter break. I  wrote in my journal on my bed, on vacation with my parents, blasting this album and thinking lots of happy thoughts.

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson

This was the chosen song to blast on repeat by the race organizers (I believe it was around mile eight or nine.) This song is a total mantra song — I love it, and every time I hear it, it makes me think of how difficult and awesome running my first half-marathon was.

First Summer, 2012

Some Nights – fun. I remember driving around to this song, especially late nights driving home at two or three in the morning.

Years two and three are coming soon!

Wordless Wednesday (Dec. 10, ’14)

I’ll be starting a new series of posts to give you all a peek into my weekly life. All photos are taken by me. Captioning varies.

Day 34 Mantra: “Look past your thoughts.”

grilled cheese onions

lunch before driving back to school

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone

rainy day movie of choice.

 being touristy and looking at all the fancy store windows.

Katie and April at the Plaza

enjoying the Christmas decorations at the Plaza

rockefeller center christmas treebeing even more touristy and going to Rockefeller Center (still, a must-do.)

positivity signs

“Look past your thoughts so you may drink the pure nectar of this moment.” -Rumi


“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” -Roald Dahl

Somewhere Along the Way, I Stopped Thinking and Started Being Happy

You have have noticed that my last post was nearly a month ago. Heck, I’m not proud of that. But instead of wiping the blog clean and simply pretending it never happened, I’d like to acknowledge it.

As soon as I made the decision to graduate early, I was feeling lost and confused, and thought I needed to jump on The Next Big Thing to feel complete in my life. I am always on the go and I like to distract myself instead of dealing with my feelings. I pride myself on my productivity, on my many passions and career goals. But this was a time for me to take care of myself, to heal up, and it’s impossible to be real with yourself when you’re always catapulting from one goal to the next.

I’m a total analytical junkie. I love thinking, I love numbers, and I love running through my thoughts. Is this valid? I might think. Am I enjoying myself enough? What could be a better use of my time?

All this questioning made me really unhappy. I knew over thinking was not the answer. I knew it was making me unhappy — I just didn’t know how to stop it. I thought this blog would help me — but in the first week, I fought my thoughts every day. I felt like an imposter, a preacher of self-worth and confidence that I did not have — did not even come close to having. But I wrote, still, tried to keep my head up and positivity on my brain.

I’ve learned you can’t force the cycle of thoughts to stop. I slowly had to ramp myself down from over thinking everything to only thinking about the necessities. It was a total pain. I hated slamming the brakes on my brain — in a weird way, it felt like I was limiting myself,even though in reality, I was freeing myself up to be more productive about real issues. Obsessing can be addictive to me — once I start, it’s hard to stop. So I had to take another approach — I tried not to let myself start thinking at all.

I hung out with people. I buried myself in books. I ran to the tunes of bass-thumping pop music. I wrote fiction — one of the few forms of where I allow myself total freedom. I tried to do things — quite simply, I tried to do things that made me feel like me, things that had fallen by the wayside.

I messed up a ton. I’m only human. But it was only recently that I’d realized that I stopped thinking and started being happy.

I took this month to slow down. I might not have documented it all, but here are some highlights:

  • November 15: I went on a scavenger hunt at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, through Watson Adventures. My team won the challenge, coming in first place on a trivia hunt! We were so shocked that we won (we’ve done several and always tied or lost by a point or two) that we started laughing when we heard the results!
  • November 26: I went to the library for fun for the first time in forever and read Insurgent cover to cover in three hours.
  • November 27: I took time to cook and spend some time with my family on Thanksgiving. Watching the parade and the dog show on TV is a must-do (I was totes rooting for the Sammy dog.) I also finished up my final essays and presentations for classes.
  • November 28: Went shopping with my mom very late in the day (no a.m. rushing for us!) and managed some good deals nonetheless.
  • December 1 & 2: Watched the entirety of season seven of Supernatural on Netflix. #noregrets #whoops I also cooked a lot of vegetables.
  • December 3: I remember being grateful for the hauntingly beautiful moon on a late night stroll.
  • December 5: I gave my final presentation for one of my favorite classes — thereby finishing all of my undergraduate work (except going to classes) until my final on December 16. (The presentation, by the way, was on Gluten Free Hudson Valley.)
  • December 7: I met up with a friend from ASME and explored Manhattan. Followed through with the tradition of going to Rockefeller Center and stopped off at the Plaza as well as our old stomping grounds.
  • December 8: I slept for 16 hours (unheard of for me!) and it was glorious.

In between, I caught up on my laundry, chatted with family and generally enjoyed myself. Have I done anything remarkable? No, not really. But I’m recharging my batteries, I’m happier than ever…and I think not writing that down, that sort of progress, would be a damn shame.

I’d be lying if I said I was happy all the time. But I’ve made bits of progress where it counts. The negative inner self-talk is now recognizable, and I’m stomping it out. I try to find the good in situations instead of immediately jumping to the worst possible scenario. I’ve learned there is a time and place for relaxing, and sometimes you need to embrace it, not fall into it kicking and protesting (my usual strategy.)

I’ve come a long way in (just under) one month. Every day feels more possible to live the life I’ve imagined for myself.

I couldn’t have written this post a month ago. I’m glad I can write it now.

Day 33 Mantra: Don’t beat yourself up over the lack of a log — the important part is the result of the journey.