gratitude journal

25 Things I Realized I Am Grateful For

Gratitude brings happiness in unexpected ways.

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As finals are coming around and the vibe on campus has changed, I have been looking for some things to help ease my mind. In the past, I have found that journaling is really helpful, but I have recently begun what some call a "gratitude journal." Every night before bed and even sometimes when I wake up, I write down three things that I am grateful for. Usually, I try to point out things that I don't notice every day. Of course, I am grateful for my friends and family, but what about the beautiful walk to my classes in the morning? Starting this has helped me focus on the good things, so in order to get you started on bringing more gratitude into your life, here are 25 things that I am grateful for.

1. Visits home

Understandably every college student is grateful for this, but it becomes so much better when you really take it in. Home feels a little warmer when you don't live there anymore, and even though that's weird, I'm really grateful for it.

2. My Friday morning bagels

This semester I had class at 9 a.m. on Friday mornings, and more often than not, the thing getting me through was knowing that I got to eat a chocolate chip bagel with peanut butter right afterward. Not that I had to eat this every morning, but it was a little treat for myself after waking up at 8:00.

3. My puppy

My Dog

Missing your dog is something that doesn't go away when you're at college, so I'm really grateful for whenever I get to FaceTime my parents and see his cute face. If only he could actually FaceTime!

4. The short walk to my friend's dorm

Penguins Walking

The UIUC campus is pretty large compared to other schools, but luckily it only takes me about two minutes to walk to my best friend's dorm, just like at home!

5. Having my own car

Dog in car

At home, I have the privilege of having my very own car, so I'm really grateful that I don't have to wait for anyone in order to get to where I need to be. I also love getting to drive it when I go home!

6. When it snows during the nighttime

Snow

Snow during the nighttime is so peaceful and quiet and makes for amazing walks anywhere. Honestly, we don't have enough gratitude toward how beautiful nature is.

7. Calling my parents

I am constantly updating my parents on what I'm doing at school, and it's awesome that I am able to do that. You don't realize how much you miss them until you don't see them every day.

8. Music by my favorite artists

Rihanna

Without music, I honestly don't know what I would do with my life because I listen to it literally all day. Getting new music, especially from artists that I'm obsessed with, makes me happy for months on end.

9. My cozy college dorm

I do love my room at home, but I had the chance to make my dorm exactly what I wanted it to be, and the mixture of my twinkle lights, pictures of my friends and my new mattress really make me feel at home! I'm really grateful I can feel so comfortable so far away from my actual home.

10. Big sweatshirts

Mirror pic

Big sweatshirts are my aesthetic, so if I don't have to dress up, you best bet I'm wearing one of my favorite sweatshirts. They're perfect for every time of the year, so who wouldn't be grateful for them?

11. Soft blankets

Cats in blanket

It's impossible for me to sleep unless it's cold in my room so that way I can sleep with lots of blankets on me. Coming back inside and getting under a soft blanket is something I look forward to daily.

12. A cup of cold water

Water

If you're obsessed with water as much as I am, you know that water tastes different at different places. Coming to college, I learned that it's hard to find water that is cold and tastes good, so I'm always happy whenever I have a nice cup of water that isn't mediocre.

13. Moments of silence

Crickets

My life before college was busy, but being an only child, I usually had time to myself. However, I'm always on the go in college, so I appreciate times when I can sit in silence and just take it all in. Sometimes you just need to stop and take a deep breath without anyone in the room.

14. Listening to my professor talk about science

Night Sky

My professor for my climate change course is a chemist, but I'm convinced that she's the smartest person on the planet. I'll be sitting in class and she'll go on about phytoplankton and dissolved oxygen, not because she has to, but because she loves it. I understand what she's saying about 50% of the time, but hearing her go on about her passion fascinates and enlightens me so much.

15. The College of Education at UIUC

College of Education

The College of Education at my university is my favorite place to be, and I can say that walking into that building always feels like a warm hug. The faculty in this college is made up of some of the sweetest and most caring people I have ever met, and I am so grateful that I get to not only work with them but be a part of everything they stand for.

16. My weighted blanket

I bought a weighted blanket a few months ago to help with my anxiety, and it has been life changing for me. I am so grateful to have something that can calm me by just laying under it.

17.  YouTubers

Me with you-tubers

YouTube has become my new TV, so I've become one of those people that can go on and on about their favorite YouTubers and what their life stories are. Even though I don't personally know them, I met some of my favorites at Lollapalooza this past summer, and I'm grateful for everything they do to make people feel happy and loved.

18. Papermate Flair Pens

Pens

I know this one sounds completely random and specific, but that's exactly what your gratitude journal should be filled with. I use these types of pens to write down literally anything because they make my handwriting look so good. I'm not sure why they make me so happy, but they do, so I won't argue it.

19. My planner

Planner

I love organizing so much. I could probably do it all day. My aunt gave me a planner as my graduation gift, and I put my entire life in it. I get excited when I get to put more things in it, and it's so refreshing when I get to cross off something that I accomplished.

20. Hot showers

Shower

A hot shower, especially during the winter, is something that I realized I love once I started doing a gratitude journal. I take one every day, but they're so much better when you realize how relaxing they are and let yourself enjoy them.

21. My grandparents

My grandparents

Of course I am grateful for my grandparents, but because I don't see them as much since I'm away, calling them always makes my day. Not everyone has grandparents that are insanely amazing, so I'm lucky that I do.

22. My mom's sugar cookies

Sugar Cookies

My parents just sent me sugar cookies that my mom made, and I know they've always been good, but I forgot how good they actually are. It's dangerous how delicious they are, but I'm definitely not complaining.

23. Redbubble stickers

Computer Stickers

Redbubble is a website that sells super cute stickers to put on your computer that don't mess it up when you take them off, and let me tell you, I love them. They make my computer look so cute, and you can always tell enough about a person just by looking at which ones they own.

24. Salted caramel hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

Salted caramel hot chocolate is a must, particularly a tall one from Starbucks. It takes hot chocolate to the next level and sometimes is all I need to lift my day up.

25. Burt's Bees chapstick

Chapstick in itself is a blessing, but Burt's Bees vanilla bean chapstick is my favorite. It's a silly thing to be grateful for, but when it's cold and your lips hurt, it's very understandable why this made my list.

Gratitude is an amazing thing to have a lot of in your life. Being grateful for the little things in my everyday life has made me much more appreciative of what I have and less aware of what I don't, and I know a lot of us are looking to feel the same way.

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15 Things You Should NOT Say To Pale Girls This Summer

From some of my most recent texts to what I have heard over the years.
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1. "Wow, you're so pale."

Yes, yes, I know. You don't have to remind 365 days in a row.

2. "Don't forget your sunscreen."

Trust me, I won't...even my chapstick has SPF in it.

3. "C'mon, let's go outside and tan."

LOL. Me? Tan? Fake Bake doesn't even work on me. I'll burn after five minutes in the sun.


4. "Aren't you hot in those jeans?"

Very hot, but I’d rather be hot than sunburned.

SEE ALSO: 42 Poems Every Female College Student Needs To Read

5. "Wow, you have so many freckles."

It's the only color I get..

6. "You remind me of Casper."

Unless you're a part of my family or have known me my whole life, please refrain from calling me Casper. It is very rude and you're acting like I can help being this pale.


7. "You are blinding me, cover those up!!"

Seriously?! Do I even have to explain this one?

8. "Why don't you go to a tanning bed?"

Um, still can get burnt in a tanning bed and I'm not putting myself through that WILLINGLY.

9. "How about a spray tan?"

Hahahahahaha, only Oompa Loompa's and our president can pull off that kind of color.

10. "No one needs a flashlight to see you in the dark."

I really had someone tell me this the other day....but I don't understand how that is possible. SO, just don't say it.

11. "Is everyone in your family this pale?"

Kinda, sorta. BUT I am by far the palest and darn proud too.

12. "All white girls ever do is tan, drink Starbucks, and complain."

HA HA, not this white girl. Must be nice though.

13. "You're not only pale because you're a redhead. So why not dye your hair?"

Yeah, that's what they say but the whole dying my hair? I do not believe that is how it works, but A for effort?

14. *takes off makeup* "OMG, are you OK? Are you sick?"

No, I'm okay. I am not sick, just extremely pale.

15. "I feel like pale skin looks good on you but you should really go to the tanning bed because you are just too pale and it's kind of unattractive."

Do you really want to know what is unattractive? When we are 35 years old and your skin is already wrinkling because of how many times you have been to the tanning bed or have slathered yourself with tanning lotion to get this “perfect” skin color, yet my skin will still be tight and in place. I will be the grandmother who looks 30 at 50 and you will look 70 at 50. (I mean my mom looks 21 still, so I have some good genes.)


Yes, I did take some of these from my most recent texts, so they are accurate and yeah, a few of my friends are pretty rude.

Please think of how you are going to compliment me, and other fair skinned people, this summer. We're not lucky; we burn easily then go right back to being pale. When in a group of people, everyone always says "Just look for the pale one" to describe where we are. I like being pale with my red hair and blue eyes.

Cover Image Credit: Jayden Trotter

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Keep Your Wellbeing On Track This Summer With These 5 Health Hacks

Don't waste your time off, use it!

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Summertime is here, and for many of us, these three months of vacation mean more room for slacking off with our usual health routines. Between sleeping in through the morning gym alarm, and consuming too many tempting party foods and drinks, it is easy to fall into a euphoria of laziness and lose health as a top priority.

Here's the good news — believe it or not, summer is actually the easiest time of the year to get and stay in killer shape because of all of the extra time you have!

Here are some tips and tricks to get you started.

1. Try using the five-to-two rule.

It's easy to forget the difference between weekdays and weekends during summer when every day feels the same. But sometimes it is actually helpful to be aware of what day of the week it is. Just like you would do in school, try to stay on track during weekdays. Wake up at a reasonable time, exercise, find ways to be productive throughout the day, and be conscious of eating healthy. This way when the weekend rolls around, if you choose to indulge in sleeping in, or going out and having a few extra drinks, it's more acceptable than choosing to do so every single night. You will feel more in control, and trust me, your body will thank you for the moderation.

2. Skip the junk food and embrace the fresh seasonal produce.

Summer is the season where all of the nutrient-dense fruits and veggies are in their prime season. Take advantage of this! Skip the fast food, and try cooking since you now cannot use the excuse that you don't have time! Go to the grocery to stock up on fresh produce. There is nothing better than homemade, healthy food, and with so much time on your hands why not try some fun new recipes? Cooking is actually really enjoyable and rewarding. Here are some of my favorite healthy summertime recipes that keep my body feeling fresh and energized.

Healthy green smoothie

Quinoa Salad

Chia Pudding

Salmon and Apple Kale Salad

3. If you're tired of the gym, try alternative forms of exercise. 

Whether it is hiking, kayaking, swimming, or playing a family game of kickball, summer presents you with many more fun active opportunities than the colder, rainier months of the year. Take advantage of that if you are getting bored or unmotivated sitting in a stuffy gym.

4. Build a new routine.

During the school year, we all fall into a fairly consistent routine. We have classes at the same time every week, we have responsibilities, deadlines, and all of those other things that may seem pesky but actually, serve in giving our lives some major structure. For many of us, that structure is much needed. When summer arrives and suddenly we don't have those obligations calling us to get up and be productive, we fall into a slump of doing nothing. That's when it is helpful to set a new routine. Our bodies like routine and regularity and the best part about a summer routine is that you set it how you like it.

How do I build a new routine? Decide on a general bed and wake up time, at least for weekdays. Choose which days of the week you will exercise and stick to them! Plan out your week at the beginning of the week. I like to keep a weekly calendar. Before the week begins I write down all of the things I would like to get done that week and place them on the days I plan to do them. You can even write down your plans with friends or social events.

5.. In general, spend time outside.

Did you know that spending time in the sunshine and fresh air actually has an impact on your health? Nature can boost our moods, make us feel more energized and productive. And everyone knows that a healthy mindset leads to a healthier life. The great thing about summer is that we have endless opportunities to be outside because of the close weather. You can really take almost any activity you want and move it outside. Even as I sit here writing this blog I am sitting outside on our beautiful porch looking out over a lake.

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