My 22 year old, Art School Student, Bunny Owning, Verge of Real Adulthood Life

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It’s the things you can’t see that mean the most or are the most important- from this I take, it’s the things you feel that mean the most.

Driving down the highway on my way to school I feel this build up and eruption of excitement and joy, simply because I’m driving, alone, in a car, on the highway, on my way to college! What?! How can anyone ever be bored? I’m sitting at home, watching something uninteresting to me on the television, in walks this man, he bends down and kisses my forehead and I say “have a good night at work, I love you” as he replies with “I love you too babe!” What? I have this handsome man, living with me, loving me, how could I ever complain? I’m laughing with my sister, I love spending time with her. Where is this place were in? She owns a home now, such a grown up! We’re laughing about something silly in our past, I hear a baby cry and then another! She returns holding two beautiful baby girls. My sister just had twins! What?! How could I ever feel ungrateful, how could I ever feel lonely? Sometimes I find myself getting excited because I can stay up as late as I want, or that every night is like a sleepover with my best friend.

If you look at your life as though you were just seven years old, you would be amazed at how much the stress doesn’t matter. You would feel overwhelmed with how much love and how many wondrous things surround you. Through the eyes of a seven year old, everything is curious, everything is new, everything is exciting, and everything has yet to become routine, normal, usual, boring. Through the eyes of a seven year old there is still magic in the air. Who’s to say we can’t all see like children see?

Megan Marsac | College for Creative Studies

www.meganjunemarsac.com

 

In January of 2013, Tuning the Student Mind asked students to write about an experience as though it were through the eyes of a seven year old. Click here to see all of the guest blog posts in the Through the Eyes of Your Child Self category. Please feel free to submit your own to, guestblogger@tuningthestudentmind.com!

 

A Time to Listen

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How does one learn to listen to that inner voice in a society that values alert problem solving and devalues silence? Learning transcendental meditation this past semester has helped me to understand that it was a mistake to believe that what was happening outside of me was creating my life. When in reality my internal self has been creating my life experience all along. Through the practice of meditation I have learned to stop and listen. Listen to what my body and mind were asking for and, more importantly, not allow the troubles in my head to steal too much of my time. Over time I have begun to see that positive thinking will see me through, positive actions will pave the path I seek. The moment I start doubting myself, I will see that doubt reflected in others. Making sure my truest desires influence my actions pushes doubt to the faintest level of my mind. I have learned who I am by recognizing who I am not and by rubbing up against that which I don’t want to be.

When you know who you are, then nothing that happens when exposing yourself to opposing parties is able to penetrate you. You see your pain in all people; you see your struggle in all people because you know you’ve been there before and felt it. You learn not to force your beliefs on others or hold on to feelings that do not belong to you. As William Shakespeare says, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” We all play many roles throughout our life. Our success lies in not losing sight of our inner Self. Commitment to that most silent self is what will ultimately allow one to stay on track.

We can choose what role we want to play in society. We can also choose what it is that we want to give and receive. Though there is no denying that our environment influences how we feel, I now realize that I am the creator of my own cage. The door to my cage is always open. I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations other than my own. Each step I take can be a step toward building that cage or ripping the door open. Being a part of the planning, construction and demolishment of your own story is what makes you alive.

Jennifer Bueso | College for Creative Studies | Interior Design

 

The Effortless Ease of True Creativity

Kaylee_Johnson

It is my belief that reaching enlightenment will not happen over night or come with force but with ease and great passion towards unlocking the inner core of the mindless self. Fulfillment of this goal comes with perseverance in bettering the current state of living and reflecting on the past, present and future to move forward to a greater state of being. My goal is to continue living with the knowledge and great guidance of those who have come before me and to view life as a weightless journey filled with everyday opportunities that arise from hard work and positivity.

Life has a funny way of throwing you into hard situations that require decision-making and tough choices. There will always be rough points in life which may be difficult to overcome. Not handling a crisis well creates a crooked path into the future. The best way to avoid this is to limit the obstacles that could arise in your life through reflection and the practice of meditation. Preparing for the future isn’t an innate skill set but one that can be learned with knowledge of living accurately.

According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the transcendental meditation movement, “every thought springs from the deepest layer of the mind but is only appreciated consciously when it reaches the superficial level of ordinary awareness. Re organization of mental material goes on in the depths at the subtle levels. Creativity consists in the ability to appreciate and make use of these subtle levels, and this ability in turn depends on the capacity of the individual to allow his mind to become still. One cannot see into the depths of a pool unless the surface is perfectly calm (Anthony Campbell, Seven States of Consciousness: A Vision of Possibilities Suggested by the Teaching of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 137). Reaching those deeper levels of pure tranquility through the practice of meditation helps to release your mind and strengthen your inner creativity. The fact is that creativity is already in existence within you but buried behind the barriers of everyday life. This is the life I want to live and grow from, to be aware of my surroundings and take in the world around me and not be clouded by fear or worry. I want to help others and be the person who spreads the light of guidance to those before me.

Imagine all of the possibilities to cherish life during every moment without having to understand why it is that you are doing what it is you are doing but to simply embrace every moment of existence. This is the path I want to run down – not the crooked un-easy path laid with uneven stones which complicate the surface. The surface of my path should be made smooth by my own reflection and habitual practice of meditation. I want to embrace my inner creativity and relish every aspect of life while inspiring others to feel the same.

Kaylee Johnson | College for Creative Studies

http://kayyjohnson.blogspot.com/

 

Slowing Down on Life’s Super-Highway

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One gorgeous, sunny day in Austin, Texas, I found myself contemplating my career of thirteen years. Actually, I’d begun thinking about leaving three years prior, but this time I was serious and full of courage, determination, and willingness, no longer thinking “what else could I possibly do?!?” You see, I’d worked in public safety since I was twenty-two, working as an EMT and Paramedic in various capacities throughout those years, fighting stress, burn-out and fatigue. Now…I knew it was time to move on! Change was on its way.

I’d been living the high-paced city life for way too long. Often I would rationalize that my pay rate of $12 to $30 per hour, depending on my job assignment, made everything worth it. Being disconnected from emotion as part of my job created an emptiness that is beyond words. The pure stress of my work was almost unbearable at times. I’d frequently eat in the car in order to be able to make my next appointment and I’d always purchase pre-made meals from Whole Foods. I kept a very precise calendar and planned at least one month in advance. On my days off I would deal with severe traffic, often times taking me over an hour to get across town to visit a friend. Occasionally, I didn’t even leave my apartment due to exhaustion. It all took a toll on me, one that came with a high cost to my mind and body – it just wasn’t worth it anymore. I wanted something more fulfilling. I wanted to rediscover myself and find a life that brought me joy.

It’s funny how The Universe works. I’d thought about “going back to school” during those three final contemplative and peace-seeking years. Once, I returned to the community college where I’d taken classes before, attempting to fit my credits into something I wanted to do now. No. That wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I considered various other things I believed I was interested in learning or doing. Those doors closed, too. It was as if The Universe had a plan and if I could get out of the way long enough, It would lead me to the best-suited place I could imagine.

I arrived in Fairfield, Iowa on August 17th, 2011 after selling the majority of my stuff and a two-day drive, pulling the remainder of what I owned in the smallest U-Haul available. Big changes occurred in a very short period of time! Let me recap them for you: I quit the only job I’ve ever really known, got rid of a bunch of material attachments, left my friends and family, and moved to a small town in another state that happens to be in the middle of nowhere. Doubts occasionally filled my mind. “What was I thinking?!? I don’t like cold weather! And the landscape around here isn’t the most enticing.” Yet, somehow, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Fairfield instantly felt like home.

The first few months was a roller-coaster ride! I was met with so much kindness, compassion, and support. I simply didn’t know how to handle it. These concepts were mere concepts before I got here to Fairfield, so my emotions were up and down while I was adjusting to the idea of receiving and trusting. Meditation helped. I was happy I could sit with myself in silence more than two minutes at a time, which is all I could stand when I initially learned basic meditation from a book.

Here at M.U.M. we practice Transcendental Meditation, also known as TM. We meditate in our classroom for ten minutes before lunch, then another twenty minutes prior to the end of the class day. A third meditation is highly encouraged, which I normally did in the mornings before school. TM is a natural stress-releaser, and it helped me purify all the stress I’d built up.

But my purification process took quite a while – it felt like forever! I was enjoying my classes, but my first semester was a bit brutal; at least it was in my head. The community and other students really made the ride easier. They comforted me with their loving arms, which is what I’d been yearning for. It was then I began to understand why all of these people were so compassionate and supportive of one another, because after I’d purged the majority of my own personal stress, I became more like that, more like the person I desired to be. The second semester started off a bit rocky, but once I got past that part I felt re-strengthened, vibrant and confident I could get through anything. I now trusted myself and The Universe, wholeheartedly.

Today, I have truly learned to slow down and trust in the process we call “life.” I enjoy almost everything about living here and going to school at M.U.M. The 1.5 hour work-study shifts are pleasant, even if I only make $7.50 per hour. The cold weather is even bearable. And making plans? HA! I love not having to keep a calendar! I have really learned how to “take it as it comes” and live in the moment. I rarely drive my car these days, often walking or riding my bike around town. I even cook my own meals, frequently sharing time with friends. Most importantly, I’m reconnected to my emotions, body, heart, and mind.

I finally got out of the way. I gave my keys to Divine Order, and The Universe took the wheel. I’m continuing this trip I like to call Transformation and Transcendence. Slowing down and simplicity are now my motto. My meditation mantra is what I use to gain access to The Super-Highway where I’ve found joy! Here…there are no tolls.

Keli Dean | Maharishi University of Management

Socially Awkward Networking

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Recently, I read an article about how Facebook improves communication skills. It suggests that social networks are practice for gaining “21st century skills needed to be successful in today’s society”. This pushed my buttons just a little bit. I’m all for Facebook just as much as the next person. It is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. But, there is just something so extremely impersonal about the whole thing.

Facebook offers individuals a way to express themselves freely, which is fine, but it also may indirectly call them to be inconsiderate. I’ve found out things about people that I didn’t want or need to know just by browsing through my news feed. It goes from extreme comments, to mundane information, to something that should be said in person. On the same page I can find out that one friend just made a sandwich or another is dying of cancer. Looking at my own personal experiences of how my friends have communicated with me through Facebook — purposely or not — has left me feeling very unimportant and disconnected.

For one example, my boyfriend of three years broke up with me publicly, via Facebook, by simply changing his relationship status. Not only was it completely insulting that this was not said in person but it was open for everyone to view. Recently a good friend of mine was in a tragic accident. She died shortly thereafter. Instead of having someone track me down or give me a phone call, I found out because of R.I.P. messages being left on her wall. This literally began to happen a scant 15 minutes after her death.  Finding out something so heart breaking from starring at a computer screen, made the whole situation even worse.

In the article it says young people use Facebook to build new connections with people from all over the world. But what’s the point of building new ones if you don’t know how to sustain your current ones properly. I grew up with the internet and for a long time I had terrible people skills due to not knowing how to communicate face to face. Facebook is a way of communicating without taking responsibility for what is being said. It makes it seem like the words are not real and do not matter, which in cyberland, I suppose they aren’t.  Unfortunately, in real life, casual Facebook messaging can leave a lasting impression on one’s heart.

 

 

Christinn Najjar | Photography Student
College for Creative Studies

http://christiannajjarphotography.com/

 

Lessons from the Kindergarten Classroom

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“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”
― Plato

Every semester I have my students read a short article written by Harry L. Gracey called “Kindergarten as Academic Boot Camp”. The basic thesis of the article is that the most successful student is typically the child who embodies the rules and routines of the classroom. Gracey offers numerous classroom anecdotes to show how noisy children are quieted, routine is implemented and how school in general exerts a strong “normalizing” influence on children. For some reason, this article outrages my students.

Initially my students’ reaction to the Gracey article surprised and humored me. I couldn’t quite believe that it had never occurred to them that a large part of the learning experience was tied to understanding behavioral expectations. Over time, however, I began to see that my students were not outraged by the imposition of rules and routines in the kindergarten classroom. In fact, they acknowledge the necessity of creating structure. Their frustration lay in the method of communication used by the teacher in the article and, more importantly, the teachers of their collective memories.

It seems that many students “hear” behavioral reprimands as personal critique. Rather than understanding teacher’s words as an attempt to engage them in the routine of the classroom, students interpret reprimands as personal assaults. Thus, severely impacting their developing self esteem and, more importantly, pushing them to the outside edge of the communal classroom. Overtime children who interpret behavioral reprimands as personal assaults begin to feel isolated, misunderstood and alienated from the larger classroom experience.

I have thought a lot about why some children “hear” behavioral reprimands as personal assaults. I can only seem to come up with one hypothesis. Children are generally much better at reading the undercurrent of emotionality than adults realize. A teacher may simply be saying, “Sit still, Johnny”, but Johnny is feeling “Johnny, you are making me nuts.” Johnny is ultimately experiencing rejection from the very person attempting to engage him in the learning process.

We know that classroom success leads to self confidence. How does a young child grow his self confidence when he experiences feelings of rejection in the classroom? It doesn’t matter if the rejection is real or imagined, the perception is what impacts the child. Teaching is an interactional process. Every thought, word and action produces an influence in the classroom atmosphere. The feeling of that atmosphere is dependent on the quality of the vibrations flowing through the teacher. As a result a teacher with love in his/her heart will establish a more loving and nurturing classroom experience. As Jim Henson, the creative genius behind the Muppets once said, “[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”

Being a teacher carries with it great potential and great obligation. The current education landscape has as yet no socially based accountability for classroom etiquette. According to my students, teachers would do well to monitor their own stress levels in the classroom, communicate with love in their hearts and understand that children can feel the vibrations beneath your words.

Molly Beauregard

 

Click here to read “Kindergarten as Academic Boot Camp” by Harry L. Gracey.

To see all of the “Notes from the Professor” series click here!

 

 

Entire Life Meditation

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Today, I am graduating from Yoga Teacher Training. The last two months have included well over 200 hours of yoga practice. So instead of giving you a specific project, idea, ritual or practice for living sustainably on this Sunday, I am going to share with you my final paper, which I feel is an approachable anecdote to sustainability through the practice of meditation and yoga.

In Yoga Beyond Belief Ganga White states, “Your entire life is meditation, all other specific forms of meditation are secondary.” In order to lead a fulfilled life, we have ideals for how we must interact with the world. We have life partners, we maintain relationships, we raise children, we work. According to Ganga White, these day-to-day activities are all “entire life” meditations.

What is the difference then, between entire life meditation and specific practice meditation? I have always felt that the benefits of my specific meditation practice come not in the act of sitting, but instead reveal themselves later in ordinary everyday interactions. When I fall out of my specific meditation practice, although I am still “meditating” in everyday life encounters, I am not reaping the benefits from sitting quietly with myself. As White says, “…all other specific forms of meditation are secondary.” However, in my opinion, bringing in a specific meditation practice will transform your entire life.

Because I sometimes choose to fall slightly away from my meditation practice, I am able to more closely examine my body physically, mentally as well as physiologically to process the differences when I am regularly meditating and when I am not.  The most specific example I can give for the benefits of regularly meditating is having a language. When I am practicing twice a day for twenty minutes everyday, I reach access to a library of words I cannot find easily when I am out of practice. I am able to hear words flow out of my mouth without thinking about how I want to say them or what order to say them in. It’s as if I am one step ahead of myself, saying exactly what it is I meant to say, yet being amazed by what comes out.

White says in reference to a seated meditation practice, “How can we escape mental pressure through yet another form of effort and control?” I respectfully disagree. Yes, It does take effort and control to have a regular specific meditation practice. For me, it’s a few half sun salutations before sitting and sometimes fighting the urge to burst up and get on with my day. Effort. Control. As I often say, the hardest part about meditating is actually sitting down to do it. Effort. Control. But my specific meditation practice greatly increases my chance to “escape mental pressure.” My regular practice is actually my tool for escaping mental pressure. It has become an organization mechanism in my mind. Seated Meditation allows me to categorize my actions, thoughts, my reactions and my emotions without thinking about each one of them independently.

Where is that space we are going to? What great plethora of “stuff” am I accessing and bathing in when I dive deep? This “stuff” reveals itself in multiple areas of my life, one example is my yoga practice. I have been practicing yoga for less than half the time I have been meditating. My meditation has deeply informed my yoga practice. Additionally I would say that my yoga practice has deeply informed my “entire life meditation”. It has created a space for desire to live a healthy life. It engages me with my community. It makes me want to live in a more sustainable way so that I may be actively involved in helping reduce the damage we consistently do to mother earth. Combining my meditation practice with my yoga practice allows me to resurface from inside my mind with fresh, creative, healthy ideas. These ideas, present themselves to me as if they are separate from me. Ideas that may resonate with other people. Ideas I’d like to share.

I have always been a teacher. When I was seven, living in Oregon as an only child, I remember educating the neighborhood kids on the different trees and bushes and bugs in my backyard. When I was fourteen I would collect a list of all the animals we would see on the way to the bus stop. I would read encyclopedias with intent to teach my friends about the calls of the species we would hear. I would talk about why they are native to our area, what they eat, when they mate. Similarly, as a twenty five year old, I adhere to the practice of yoga. Attaching myself to a lineage right away, knowing what I need from this experience early in the game. The seven and fourteen year old me emerge in my approach to diving deep into the subject, in order to bring the knowledge to others.

Starting Tuning the Student Mind was my attempt to invoke this spirit in others who are my age. As cliché as it sounds, we ARE the future. It is our duty to lead grounded, healthy, sustainable lifestyles. Because yoga and meditation create the space for desire to do those things, we need to bring yoga and meditation to students. Creating academic classes structured around practices that invoke spiritual awakening is no easier than moving a graveyard down the street. But this organization is one of my “entire life meditations”, an idea sparked by the act of meditating itself. And it has transformed in infinite, undeniable ways through of the act of practicing yoga.

It must be then, that your entire life is yoga. Every other specific yoga practice is secondary. I don’t know if Ganga White would agree but this, to me, is the meaning of bringing yoga off your mat. Be it yoga or meditation, both have been deeply seeded in my being for my entire life. Off my mat, in everyday life, on my mat, seated…all of these reach the “stuff” in some way or another. They just all access it and process it differently.

Our entire lives are one full meditation from start to finish. By practicing seated meditation and living our yoga on and off the mat, we learn about our mind, how it works, what it prefers, what it distastes. By bringing the “stuff” out and into our everyday lives, we learn about our full self, how to interact with others, what they prefer, what they distaste. When we are able to analyze both perspectives of meditation – “entire life” meditation and specific practice meditation – and unite them with one another, we are ready to progress, work together, be compassionate, learn, adjust, center and continuously advance.

Chelsea Richer

 

 

An Overwhelming Disconnect

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I believe that modern American society has alienated individuals. By creating endless options to everyday life, we are creating a totally personalized separate experience from the rest. Advertisements sell the idea that the product was made special for you – Each time one buys into a product, a company, a social trend, they are also buying into the beliefs that are backed by those things. For instance L’OREAL reminds us, “Because your worth it” but it doesn’t give us any real understanding of what that means.

We use products as comfort mechanisms, their branding views and beliefs slowly becoming our ideas. And those ideals are backed by so many justifications. This overwhelming rational of the modern person requires a customized life. The truth is that the products and their beliefs we accept into our custom lives, are acting as comfort mechanisms, cheat tools and crutches. Customized decision making allows us to believe we are moving into new spaces – Each time the individual makes a choice of what they want to do different from the rest, they make a cut into what is possible, entertaining only the ideal and not the reality of what could be.

There is an overwhelming disconnect hidden by the promotion of the American ideal. Stitched together, for maximum personalization, we believe that combining particular pieces of our social culture will insure custom-fitting individuation. The truth is we are limiting ourselves more now than ever, and our perceptions are choices that obscure the reality of our limitations. By consistently focusing on how our consumer driven choices can be bonded together to create a happy ideal we are missing out on the opportunity to really develop a sense of true self.

I dislike this phenomenon of separation. After all, America was founded on a democratic core belief that the people could work together to make something more than the individual by his/herself was capable of creating. Yes, the individual is responsible for creating the change they wish to see. However real, meaningful change will only come when individuals begin to work together honestly and openly to create a society really worth living in. Instead of focusing so much of our attention on how we can put up walls to separate from each other in our perceived “uniqueness”, we should be focusing on how much we have in common and how we might break down the walls between us to come back together.

 

Chelsea Depner | College for Creative Studies

 

Note from the Professor:

Chelsea’s blog discusses the personal impact of living in a consumer culture. While this topic has inspired significant discussions in academic circles, we very rarely read an honest assessment of what it “what it feels like” to be raised in this kind of culture. I suppose a parallel discussion would be chatting about water with a fish.

How do we develop an expansive enough perspective to objectively understand the influence of consumerism on our everyday life experience? Just like our imaginary fish is soaked in water, we are soaked in a culture hijacked by the demands of consumerism. Our identity is tied to purchasing decision in very real ways. (If you are objecting to my statements because you do not own a TV, listen to the BBC for your news and never shop the mall – think again — your rejection of consumerism may just represent the flip side of the same coin. More on that later!).

For those of you who are interested, I am posting two reader friendly references on this very complicated and heady subject. Hopefully, this will jump start further conversation.

Read the chapter entitled “The Magic System” in Problems in Materialism and Culture by Raymond Williams (London, Verso, 1980).

Read the chapter entitled “Running It Up a Flagpole to See if Anyone Salutes” in Ads, Fads and Consumer Culture: Advertising’s Impact on American Character and Society by Arthur Asa Berger (New York, Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).

Molly Beauregard

 

Happiness Is Not Lost

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Truth

Often in the current American culture, we are on a set pursuit of happiness — always looking to find happiness like it’s a lost dog or something.  We’re searching so hard that we don’t realize happiness is not an object that will suddenly drop into our lap one day.  It is something we decide all day, every day.

I believe one reason why we are on the constant pursuit of happiness instead of making a conscious choice to be happy everyday is due to our cultural obsession with convenience. The Internet, fast food, cell phones and especially a general lack of patience are some examples of how Americans are obsessed with convenience. The world  moves fast and so should we. Convenience means now and that goes for happiness too. We want everyone and everything to be as convenient as possible so we can experience instant gratification — which, ultimately, we mistake for happiness. When there is no instantaneous gratification then we believe ourselves to be unhappy. Happiness may not be decided in one second flat but it should last longer than our espionage toward instant gratification. The feeling of immediate gratification represents just one moment on the path to true sustainable happiness.

Waiting for things to happen is nonsense.  It is from within that one decides over and over again how to grow a settled feeling of happiness and create a perspective capable of sustaining it.

Michaela Allen | College for Creative Studies

No One’s Watching But ME

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People are strange. I’m even weirder.

I used to constantly question myself. I’d ask myself if this was ok to wear . . . . . .if this was okay to say . . . . . if this was acceptable to society. It wasn’t until recently that I finally woke up one day and thought to myself, “who gives a shit”. No one is really watching but ME.

Adjusting to college is hard and strange and totally out of your comfort zone. All my life I’ve begged for freedom and now that I have it I don’t even know how to use it. There is just this enormous space to fill everyday with a million and one choices. It’s crazy and it can feel pretty overwhelming.

When I was young, I had epilepsy. Fortunately, through a combination of meditation, sleep and support I recovered. I have been seizure free for years. Despite having moved past the diagnosis, the scars of my old fears seem to stay with me. I want to “let it go” but I am plagued by this curiosity of ‘maybe I would have been smarter if I never had those seizures’. Lately, I am beginning to see that life tosses you just what you need to edge up to in order to learn and grow. I am beginning to realize that intelligence only gets you so far. Strength is what will carry you through life. Hopefully, in my case, I have just enough of both to support my every move, open my heart and make a difference in this big, wide, beautiful world.

Cami Beauregard | Albion College

“Strength shows not only in the ability to persist but the ability to start over. ” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

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