INSPIRE: Finding Everyday Beauty

ice cream color

Welcome to the next installment of the INSPIRE series where anyone can share their outlook on life. This piece is by Jessica. Enjoy and share! Editors Note: All featured posts have been edited for length and clarity.

Positive Mind + Positive Vibes + Positive Life

There are always life events that can make us look at life in a negative way. One small thing can have an impact on our daily lives. I have learned over the past few years that it’s better to live life in “Find Positivity In Everything” state of mind than to let negativity take over my day.

I have more to be happy about than negative.

I was recently on vacation in Belize. I was swimming in the ocean and decided to go snorkeling. I noticed coral where I was swimming, but didn’t pay attention to the danger. I felt a sting in my ankle and returned to shore. I looked at my ankle to see that it wasn’t a small scrape.

I had two options: to call it a day and sit in the sand while everyone else splashed and enjoyed the beautiful crystal turquoise sea, or clean the cut, put on a bandage and enjoy the beautiful paradise in front of me.

Life is too beautiful and a huge blessing not to live it in a positive way!

I chose to be positive. I chose to not let negativity take over my day. There is always a reason to smile and be positive I hope y’all can always find it.

-Jessica Tristan

Jessica is a proud southern belle from Texas where she spends most of her time living a positive and happy life full of color. Some of her favorite things to do include traveling, crafting, taking Instagram photos and having a delicious scoop or two of mango sherbet! Make sure to follow her on Instagram @Missjessicabellexo. 

 

INSPIRE: 5 Tips to Make the Lunch Hour Workout Work For You

Welcome to the next installment of the INSPIRE series. This fitness piece is by the motivational Cory. Enjoy & share!

pilates

If I have learned anything since joining the “adult world” it is that having a traditional 8-5 schedule is great! I love having a routine and thrive when I can plan ahead and set goals and expectations. However, one thing I didn’t realize is just how hard it can be to get everything that needs doing done! Between cleaning and home maintenance, work, friends, my boyfriend, pets, family, personal time, it can feel like a lot to balance. And since I’m not an early bird or a night owl, it leaves me with a pretty small window of time to be productive. That is why a few months ago I started using my lunch hour as my workout hour! I found a spinning studio up the street from my office, and started spinning for 45 minutes twice a week.

I fell in love with the lunch hour workout! At first I was worried about being the sweaty, smelly girl in the office, but with a little learning and a little prep, I was able to master getting in my fitness while increasing my work productivity.

  1. Plan ahead – Know what you are doing! Pack your gym bag the night before and give it a once over in the morning just in case you missed something. Know where your workout is, where you can park, and what you need to do to make it happen. Eat a good breakfast, and always bring your lunch! That way you can ensure it’s healthy and not feel crunched for time. And finally, make sure the studio you choose has the amenities you need, like parking or maybe a shower and locker room.
  2. Find something you can do in 30-45 minutes – Ideally, your workout should be no more than 5 minutes from your workplace. No studio nearby? Find a great running trail or use nearby outdoor space to DIY your own workout with stairs, running, body weight exercises, and a yoga mat!
  3. Pack more than the essentials – Don’t zip up your workout bag once you’ve got the must haves in there. Go beyond the normal ponytails, workout clothes, and running shoes. Why? Because the more comfortable you are, the easier it is to say “YES” when your lunch hour comes around. Extras I like? Body lotion, sunblock, extra underwear, blotting papers, and allergy meds.
  4. Get your desk ready – I purchased a small desktop fan to help cool down after my workout. Stock your drawers with power up snacks for pre and post workouts like fresh fruits and nuts. Keep water at your desk throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and help you get the most out of your workout. Keep a yoga mat and an extra set of shoes and workout wear so you never have an excuse to miss!
  5. Dress for success – Want in on my #1 secret? Start your day wearing your sports bra under a flowy dress with easy to slip on/off sandals. When the time to workout comes, it will be easy to slip out of your dress and into your workout wear. Then, you can put on a fresh, traditional bra afterwards. This will save you tons of time and mental stress of getting into the lunch hour workout mindset!

I know once I started using my lunch hour to workout, I have found it a lot easier to focus in the afternoon. The afternoon slump is like a distant dream for me. Since I’ve moved offices, I’m no longer near the spin studio, but I now do a boot camp twice a week and go on runs the other 3 days, since I’m training for an upcoming 10k! So instead of scrolling endlessly through your social media tomorrow at noon, or spending lots of money at a restaurant, lace up your sneakers and do something active and make the most of your lunch hour.

 

Cory is a web developer for a marketing company. She is a Louisiana girl at heart, but currently calls the Midwest home. Cory is a passionate vegan and fur mama to 2 cats and 3 dogs. On summer weekends you can find her spending the day on the water or planting flowers in her yard and drinking sweet tea. A life-long procrastinator, she is navigating her way through life trying to find a work/life balance and still get laundry done.

4 Basic Travel Tips for Your First European Journey

IMG_2992

Ireland

As many of you know, I recently got back to the United States after a trip to Europe. We toured Ireland, Wales and England for what seemed like too short of a journey. Travel lust has set it in and I’m already planning a future backpacking trip in Wales.

A few travelers in our group had never been on a plane, much less out of the country. It’s nerve wracking, yet exciting, to be doing something you’ve never done before. So, I decided to let you all in on a few basic travel tips that help you during a trip overseas.

 

  1. Don’t forget your passport. Yes, I know. This seems self explanatory, but some people do forget. Also, while your traveling from hotel to hotel, or country to country, make sure you always keep your passport in one place. A friend on my trip forgot her passport at one of our hotels. It happens. Make sure to keep a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust.
  2. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. One subject people always ask about is money. Please don’t convert dollars to euros or pounds before heading overseas. The conversion rate is staggering. Wait until you get to an airport ATM to draw out cash (there are ATM’s everywhere, don’t worry about access). Also, many credit and debit cards work overseas. I would recommend Capital One or Visa .
  3. Safety first. Some travelers are so scared of pickpockets that they don’t enjoy walking through a city. Be vigilant of your surroundings, but make sure to take in the atmosphere.
  4. People are people. A girl we traveled with told me her greatest fear was not fitting in overseas. Traveling is a perfect way to see that all people eat, sleep and breathe. Don’t be scared to ask questions of the locals, or to travel a little outside your comfort zone. Most people are willing to give directions and tips about their city.

I hope these basic tips help you in planning your next adventure. Let me know where you’re going in the comments below!

Travel On,

Rebecca

INSPIRE: 6 Steps to Becoming an Effective Leader

Welcome to the next installment of the INSPIRE series. This piece is written by Matt, a driven leader who wants to share his insight with others. Enjoy & share!

startup-594091_960_720

I say this in two parts: first, the overarching theme that I am about to share with you is not groundbreaking, though it is my goal to shine it in a different light through my experiences. Second, and most importantly, I have failed numerous times in individual opportunities to lead others effectively; however, without these trying moments I would have never gained some of the most valuable lessons that I have to share with you. I do not claim to be a perfect leader, but I do claim to be an individual who strives each day to serve others better than I did the day before. The following are just a few of the lessons that I have learned. I hope that they help you as much as they’ve helped me!

“An effective leader will always pass the recognition onto the general body…”

  1. Leadership is a mindset. Many people will claim that “leaders” posses a certain talent or skill. However, I have found that leadership is more so dependent on a state of mind. While personality traits such as confidence, innovation, and decisiveness may enhance an individual’s potential to be a great leader, even the most skilled individuals may not be able to lead if they aren’t willing to put others before themselves. Effective leaders shift the focus from themselves onto those whom they are serving. Every action that you take within your role should be taken with the intention of benefiting the people or organization that you are serving.
  2. Find your role. As a leader, you will have a large influence in determining the direction that your organization takes. The question arises: How can you effectively lead without knowing your own role? Without a true understanding of your position, your potential as an effective leader will remain untapped because the time and energy that you invest into the organization will lack structure. Luckily, many organizations have a written description of their positions and the roles assigned to each. Read them. Additionally, ask your fellow members how they would like to see you integrate your leadership abilities in the organization. No matter how established your organization may be, your members will be satisfied knowing that they picked the right person to represent them if you let them play a role in determining how you lead the organization.
  3. Set realistic goals. After you have defined your role as a leader, take some time with your members to facilitate the establishment of the organization’s goals. These goals should be measurable and under the control of your organization. I recommend setting no more than five goals at a time so you will be able to pay proper attention to each of them individually.
  4. Follow through. Once you have listed your organization’s goals, now comes the time to plan out exactly how you are going to accomplish them. Though it may seem odd at first, I have found an approach called backwards planning or backwards goal-setting to be extremely helpful in completing daily tasks and long term goals. This mindset puts the focus on where you want to be at some point in time rather than concentrating mainly on where you are currently. To use this approach, first, picture your organization accomplishing a specific goal. Then, ask yourself what your organization would need to do just before that moment to reach the specific goal. In doing so, you have set a subgoal that will occur just prior to accomplishing the final goal. Repeat this step over and over again until you find yourself where you are currently. Retracing your steps from the finish line to the starting point will provide you with a roadmap to success by breaking down even the largest goals into smaller, more attainable pieces.
  5. Build individualized relationships in your organization. No two people are exactly the same. So why would you use the same approach to motivate members in your organization to accomplish a desired task? Your members are driven in their daily life by various factors, which will come into play when fulfilling their responsibilities in your organization. Thus, an effective leader will take the time to get to know each of his or her members on a personal level. By discovering the different reasons that each member joined, not only will you gain a better perspective of what they would like to see in the future, but you will also identify ways in which they can be inspired to help the organization reach its goals.
  6. Recognize others and share thanks. Oftentimes, the leader is looked to as the face of an organization. This can be a very humbling experience for many leaders, as you will be congratulated for nearly everything that the organization accomplishes, regardless of how involved you were with the process. An organization’s daily operation requires the hardwork of many people working together and thus an effective leader will always pass the recognition onto the general body or to those who were responsible for the feat.

Organizational leaders go to phenomenal efforts to see that goals are met and deadlines are reached. There may be times where you feel overwhelmed and overworked, but never let a day go by that you don’t thank those around you for the unconditional support that they offer you. In due time, you will see the work that you put in pay off through the positive impacts that you make on your organization and its members.

 

For the past year and a half, Matt has served as the Chapter President for Phi Delta Theta – Missouri Iota at Lindenwood University. Along the way, he has gathered countless pieces of information on how to be a more effective leader from personal experiences, lessons from other leaders, and many missteps.

INSPIRE: Life’s a Lake

Welcome to the next installment of the INSPIRE series. This metaphorical piece relates a lake to life. I hope you enjoy this article by the artistic Jen as she takes you on an inspirational journey. 

adventure-1836601_960_720

Growing up, most of my favorite summer memories were on the lake. I was one with nature and I was in my own paradise. I would just float in an inner tube for hours. Rain or shine, I was on the water. The lake would just set my soul on fire.  This is where I would be the most relaxed, where I was my true self. Being surrounded by gentle waves and warm rays of sunshine, adventure was endless.

“You can make your corner as clean and colorful as you want.”  

Think of life like the lake. You are surrounded by all things good and natural. Every day is a new story, a new adventure, a new start.  You control the vibes the water send you. You are in control of letting the bad vibes drip down the pier and sink to the bottom of the lake. You will receive the vibes you give out. The lake is just a canvas, in which everyone has a piece. You can make your corner as clean and colorful as you want. Why make it dark and gloomy?

Sometimes things get in the way of our happiness in life. The water will carry toxic relationships, depression, or accidents. We let this pollute our lake. We forget how amazing our lives are and how fortunate we are to live in a world of adventure and love. The dark clouds of anger and hatred may cover the warm rays of sunshine, but we have options. Wait for the clouds to pass, or look past them to the horizon. Life is our lake, and we only have so many days to make the most of it! Don’t spend your days inside, hiding from the rest of the world.

“Take some time to focus on you.”

What does your lake look like? Do you need to clean up a little? Take some time to focus on you; it’s okay to take some time to clean up your lake. Come out and enjoy the sunshine. Life may get you down, but you can either stay at the bottom of your lake or swim up to surface. Surround your lake with only the best people for you. The water carries vibes both ways. This is just some inspiration for a lovely life.

 

Jen Wunder is a junior at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri. She is an Interactive Media and Web Design major with a passion for branding. Jen also writes for the Odyssey Online, and is currently interning with the River City Rascals. In her free time, Jen is usually found at hockey games screaming her heart out. She loves Disney vacations, Gingham’s pancakes at 3am, and heart-to-heart talks with her Tri Sigma sisters.