Enjoying the Ride

enjoying-the-rideThe fairy lights above my head twinkle and my pumpkin pecan waffle candle fills the room with a sense of autumnal calm. At 11:48pm I am finally able to start preparing for the day and week ahead. This week is mid semester exam week, and I know that I am not the only one feeling as though I am rushing from place to place and frantically writing out sticky notes with to-do lists and important due dates.

With papers, exams, projects, and extracurricular meetings filling the week, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are some days where it feels as though everything is going wrong, and that it may not actually be possible to get everything done. A year ago, stress would be filling my mind and body as I desperately tried to manage all that was thrown my way. My mind would never cease to plan, think, and worry until the week was over and I finally got my chance to rest.

laptop-computer-1245981_640This year I am trying to do things differently. Stress takes a significant toll on my overall well-being, and chronic stress almost always results in a physical illness of some sort (a cold, migraine, etc.). Though my schedule has been much more involved and hurried than last year, I make a conscious effort to not stress until it is (and if it is) absolutely necessary. I listen to my body’s needs, as well as those of my mind, and take those into consideration.

There are definitely times this week when I have felt on the verge of letting open the floodgates of stress, but I’ve taken the time to focus on what is important and on nourishing my body and mind. As I have mentioned before, switching to a vegan diet means that I have to be much more cognizant about how often I eat. I think it was easier to skip meals last year, but now my rumbling stomach reminds me to take time to eat and refuel.

I have also made an effort to connect with those around me, especially during this time of stress. It’s easy to stay in your own world of assignments and schedules, but reaching out to others can provide a much needed stress release and great memories. You could make someone’s stressful day that much better by connecting and sharing a laugh. 🙂

I am also trying to use my time as efficiently as possible. There have been quite a few nights this year where I have gone to bed at what are considered morning hours, and the next day I am struggling to focus and get through what needs to be done. While that may happen this week, I try to use every hour of time intentionally so as to avoid exhaustion. By working intentionally towards my goals and requirements, I allow myself the time I need to relax and unwind, and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

tea-1209428_640In times of stress I have also developed the habit of counting my blessings, and thinking through all that I am grateful for. A hot shower. A comfortable bed. Everyone who supports me. Access to healthy meals. There are so many things that I am grateful for in every day, and focusing on these daily blessings rewires my brain into positive thinking and joy. 🙂 I am also still keeping my habit of nightly journaling, so that I can reflect on and remember this great time in my life. Now that the weather is getting colder, I have started the habit of drinking a cup of hot Yogi Detox tea while journaling. It’s the perfect way to unwind and relax, and has prevented me from getting the sickness that is traveling around campus this semester!

No matter where you are in your life right now, I hope that you are doing well! Let me know ways you deal with stress in the comments below, I’m always looking for new suggestions!

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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DIY Dorm Decor: Inspirational Quote Wall

DIY Dorm Decor-5The other day as I was sorting through my belongings to pack up for college, I stumbled upon a book I had bought awhile ago called Think Happy Be Happy. As soon as I saw it, an idea popped into my head. I am a bit obsessed with Pinterest, and I remember pinning a bunch of quote walls on my home boards for future use. As I flipped through this book, I new that a quote wall was exactly what I needed to finish off my dorm room decor!

This inspirational quote wall is very easy to make, and is a wonderful way to relieve stress or back-to-school anxiety. It’s also a great way to turn your dorm room into a sanctuary, where you feel inspired to pursue your dreams 🙂

What You Need:

Supplies you will need
Supplies you will need
  • A large gluestick
  • A pair of scissors
  • A cloth (if you are messy with glue, like me)
  • Craft paper of your choice (I got craft paper by Hot Buy at Michael’s for $5 instead of its regular $20!)
  • Print outs of quotes that inspire you (Pinterest and a color printer are a great way to go, or buying a quote book to repurpose)

What To Do:

First start by cutting out your favorite inspirational quotes from your quote book, or from print-outs. Some of my favorites are “You are free to fly” “Find beauty in rain” “Encourage each other daily while it is still today” and “Live simply so that others may simply live”.

You can either do a simple backing with one layer of craft paper, or opt to offset two layers for a more detailed look. Since I have more space on my wall, I decided to go for the double-layered craft paper design. To do this, first select your two pieces of desired craft paper. For a quote about stars, I picked craft paper with a sparkling night sky and another piece with fireworks. Pick the layer you want to go directly under the quote, and cut about half an inch of a border around your quote.

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Alternate patterns to create unique backings!

Then, apply glue to both the back of the quote paper and the front of the craft paper (to form a double bond, and make the glue last longer). Press the quote paper onto the craft paper and use the cloth to smooth over any bubbles or excess glue. Now for the second layer! Start by offsetting the quote paper by one inch and cutting another layer of craft paper with a half inch border. Then apply glue to the back of the first layer of craft paper and the front of the second layer, and press the two together. And you’re done with your first quote!

Repeat this step for as many quotes as you would like to include. I’m going to space my quotes out between my coloring page frames and inspirational wall hangings to truly customize my wall! 🙂 (I think I’ll add fairy lights as well to brighten up my space).

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Once they’ve dried, affix them to your wall and enjoy your inspirational space! 🙂

This is a super easy and budget-friendly DIY to customize your space, and make it a place that inspires you. Most college dorms require that all wall hangings use removable fixtures, so I recommend poster adhesive or command strips to hang decor on your walls.

I hope you enjoyed the last post in my DIY Dorm Decor series! I would love to see how you decorate your dorm room this year! Leave a picture in the comments, or tweet it at me/tag me on Instagram! (Twitter: @alyssa_debella, IG: @thewisewillowblog) 🙂

©2016 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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My College Journey: Second Year Goals

Second Year Goals-2It’s hard to believe that I am already embarking on my second year of college! This summer flew by, and today I officially start my journey back. At this time last year I was at New Student Orientation, taking in an abundance of information about the next four years of my life.

Now that I am returning to school for my second year, I have a few goals in mind for what I would like to accomplish. Now that I will have less of an adjustment, I hope to settle in to a productive and authentic routine.

Second Year Goals:

  • Embody the mantra “Never say no to a new adventure” and continue to branch out of my comfort zone, while staying true to my values and beliefs
  • Continue on my blogging journey, and expand my blogging horizons by joining new Twitter chats and Facebook groups
  • Explore my passion for religious studies by making connections within the major and exploring options for future career paths
  • Harness my creative energy into endeavors to help others (blog posts for organizations, etc.)
  • Find balance between academics, extracurriculars, and blogging. Make time for all, and make time to de-stress
  • Meet new people and attend more campus events, especially academic speakers and other prominent visiting scholars
  • Work on total body fitness with upper body strength workouts mixed in with my usual cardio
  • Maintain consistent nutrition for the entire year, and improve my vegan cooking abilities
  • Read more books, especially before bed instead of looking at my social media accounts
  • Go to bed earlier and get adequate rest for my busy schedule
  • Travel off campus more and explore surrounding areas that I haven’t visited

I’m excited to embark on my new journey, and I will keep you updated on my adventures! 🙂 What are your goals for this year?

©2016 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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College Essentials Roundup and Giveaway!

College Essentials Round-Up and Giveaway!-2This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over, but new adventures await as the school year approaches! I will be entering my second year of college, and for the past few days I have been packing up all of my essentials for the new year. I recently did a DIY Dorm Decor post series to highlight my dorm room essentials, and as the school year approaches I thought I would share a few essentials that have made my college day-to-day life a breeze.

I recently celebrated my one year Blogiversary, and to thank you for your amazing support I will be doing a giveaway of all of the products featured in this post! Keep reading for information on how to enter! 🙂

College Daily “Shevival” Essentials: 

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Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 70 in Canary Yellow

FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini 70 Camera and Film: No matter how much you personalize your dorm room decor, nothing adds an authentic touch like photos of friends, family, and meaningful places in your life. In the digital age, hard copy photos add a unique element to your dorm room while also reminding you of those you hold close to your heart. With the FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini 70 camera, keeping photos of people and places you love has never been easier. This camera has a selfie mirror in the front, which makes it easy to pose for fun pictures with friends. The camera prints out credit-card sized photos, with a white border that is perfect for personalizing with colored markers! It also has a few different modes to ensure that the exposure is perfect for all situations.

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A few sunflower photos that I took on a sunny day!

Whether you are outside taking a picture of the beautiful sunset (as I do regularly!) or getting a close up of one of your favorite book quotes, the camera has settings to adjust for light and distance changes. I have the Canary Yellow color (a bright and optimistic yellow that lights up my room decor!), but there are many other color options to choose from. This camera comes in Moon White, Island Blue, Passion Red, Midnight Black, and Stardust Gold. You can buy the FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini 70 for $139.95 online, as well as the film for $19.95 per pack of 20 exposures. I’m thinking of doing another DIY Dorm Decor post featuring a photo wall, let me know in the comments if that is something you would like to see! 🙂

Summer’s Eve Simply Sensitive Cleansing Cloths:

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Summer’s Eve Simply Sensitive Cleansing Cloths

One of the most important things about college day-to-day life is staying healthy. Personal hygiene and health can often fall below academic and other obligations, but these cloths by Summer’s Eve make it easy to make personal care a priority. There were many instances in college in which I felt as though I barely had any time to get ready for the day, or freshen up between classes and after a workout. These cloths are perfect for tossing in your workout bag or backpack, and are convenient for freshening up throughout the day. I am someone who has very sensitive skin, so the Simply Sensitive cloths are perfect (not to mention they are hypoallergenic and alcohol-free). They also come in Island Splash and Sheer Floral scents. As you may have seen in my vegan lifestyle haul, I focus on where products come from and what chemicals are used in them. Summer’s Eve does not test on animals, and has a very gentle formula.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula FlipBalms:

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Palmer’s FlipBalms In Creamy Coconut, Ripe Mango, and Juicy Watermelon

As some of you may know, I have a lip balm problem. I own way more than any person should reasonably have, but they are a daily staple that I think often gets overlooked. At my college, the winters are very cold and windy. This weather is very conducive to chapped lips, but I make sure to have a lip balm with me wherever I go. These FlipBalms by Palmer’s are perfect for throwing into your backpack, purse, or workout bag and come in three great flavors: Creamy Coconut, Ripe Mango, and Juicy Watermelon. I have always had trouble opening chapsticks with one hand (the lid often goes flying off, never to be found again), but these FlipBalms solve that problem with their design. All you have to do is lift up on the lid, and the lip balm rotates into view. You then press down to snap it in place and apply as needed! To close it, you just press on the tab in the opposite direction and it will flip closed.

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Their unique flip design, making it impossible for me to lose the cap!

These have been a life saver, and they have a very moisturizing and gentle formula. For some reason, the EOS lip balms actually dried my lips out and made them more chapped and irritated. These Palmer’s lip balms have kept my lips moisturized without irritation, so if the EOS formula irritated your lips don’t be afraid to try these lip balms! As you know, I read ingredients on all products I use and these FlipBalms have cocoa butter, raw shea butter, and vitamin E making them great for sensitive skin. They also have ethically/sustainably sourced ingredients and practices, with no parabens, petrolatum, phthalates, or gluten. They also don’t test on animals, thus making them cruelty-free. 🙂 You can buy these FlipBalms at Target, Kmart, Five Below, and Palmers.com for $3.50.

GreenPan Mini Ceramic Non-Stick Pan:

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The perfect size for dorm kitchen cooking!

My dorm this year has a wonderful kitchen, and I’m excited to cook my own snacks with ease! One thing I have found as a vegan is that I have to eat much more regularly to keep my blood sugar levels regulated. Because of this, I’ve found that snacking throughout the day on healthy staples keeps me happy and healthy! I was going to lug my cookware to school with me in a huge box, but as one person a pan is substantially larger than I need it to be. The GreenPan Mini Ceramic Non-Stick pan is the perfect size for all of my snacking needs! It has Thermolon™ ceramic non-stick, which means you have to use less oil when you cook (which is always convenient, because cooking with oil splattering is quite difficult). It’s super easy to clean, making it perfect for keeping shared kitchens and spaces tidy for others. It also heats evenly, which makes it easy to cook any type of food or reheat a snack. This pan also has a non-slip handle that stays cool, so you don’t need to worry about waiting for the pan to cool off or using oven mitts. It’s very easy to store in my dorm room as well, making it the perfect fit for a dorm room lifestyle!

GreenPan also has a great back-to-school discount for all of you, my lovely readers! 🙂 From 8/14/2016 to 9/4/2016 you can get 20% off and free shipping on your order, just use the coupon code SCHOOL20 at checkout!

Zebra Pen Assortment:

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My Zebra pen assortment!

I have always loved Zebra pens. As many of you know, I love organization and planning which makes buying many pens a necessity. For college coursework (other than math homework) I prefer to use pens, as the ink is more visible for late-night studying. Zebra pens offer a variety of styles to fit your lifestyle needs. I personally love using colored pens to keep my planner organized (red for important due dates, green for appointments, etc.). The Zebra Serasa gel pens have a fast-drying ink that won’t smudge, and is bold for planning and emphasizing notes. The Zebra Z-Grip Plus ballpoint pens (I have the blue and green barrel designs) are perfect for class notes and for writing in-class essays. The grip keeps your hand comfortable, and the ink doesn’t smudge! If you are left-handed, these would be a great option! 🙂

The H-301 Steel Highlighters are perfect for annotations and note highlighting. I have the pink color, and love to use it to highlight key points in my readings, especially since my homework load includes mountains of readings. It’s also great for note highlighting during studying sessions! The F-301 BCA pen is a Breast Cancer Awareness pen with a pink barrel design and black ink. This pen has a more fine point, and is great for detailed sketching, diagrams, and annotations.

Those are my day-to-day college essentials! As I know that many of my readers are college students, I thought I would run a giveaway to celebrate all of the support that you have given me this year! 🙂 To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is comment below with what your college essentials are! I will pick a winner randomly from the comments!

Giveaway Rules:

  • Only post one comment, but if you are also a blogger feel free to include your site in your comment so I can check out your blog! 🙂
  • Post the best way for me to reach you in your comment, whether that is by Twitter DM (include your handle) or email
  • Make your comment about your college essentials, or your daily life essentials (I love to hear your recommendations!)
  • Only enter the giveaway if you live in the United States, though I would love to hear from my non-US readers! I promise there will be a giveaway in the future that will include you all! 🙂
  • The giveaway will end on October 1st, and I will announce the winner on Twitter (and email/DM them to notify them!)
  • If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected

Thank you so much for all of your support, and I hope that you enjoyed this post!

©2016 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Inspirational Wall Decor – DIY Dorm Decor

DIY DORM DECOR-3Back-to-school season is in full swing, and DIY Dorm Decor has been one of my top priorities as the new school year approaches. I’ve realized the importance of having a space that speaks to your interests and passions, and have created this series to show you what I’ve come up with for my dorm room this year 🙂

I have been loving pastel color themes lately, and that has been my inspiration for the projects in this series. For this DIY project I created three inspirational wall hangings that I am planning to place next to a photo collage on my wall 🙂

What You Need:

  • Acrylic paints in your favorite colors (I got the colors light pink, lavender, ocean breeze, and pale blue from the craft smart® satin acrylic paint line)
  • Washi tape in your favorite designs (I got the bohemian design from cre8ted space®)
  • Wooden wall pieces in designs or expressions that speak to you (I decided to get one that says peace, one that says laugh, and letters that form vibes when put together)
  • Paint brush set with sponges and regular brushes
  • Newspaper or other paper base to prevent spills
  • Container for paints
  • Old cup for paint water

What To Do: 

I started with the peace wall art, and opted to use my ocean breeze, and pale blue colors. I also decided to opt for an ombre design, in which the two colors would blend together between each letter. 

I started with my ocean breeze paint and used the smallest paint brush to paint the P completely with an even two coats. I then used another small brush and took my pale blue color to paint the E. With both letters evenly covered with two coats of paint, I then took my blending brush and gently blended the two color borders together to make an ombre look. 

I repeated these steps for all of the letters, alternating between colors and blending the borders. I then checked all of the edges for extra paint, and set it out to dry.

I repeated this process with my next laugh wall design, but used my light pink and lavender colors. I also opted for a more washed-out look and decided to use the sponge to apply the paint, rather than a paint brush. 

I started with the lavender color and used a small paint brush to apply this first coat (the sponge needs a little bit of paint to work with). I then used the sponge for the rest of the applications, and flipped sides between light pink and lavender. I used the border blending technique again to create an ombre blended look, and the sponge added a softer texture and appearance to the paint. 

Finally, I took my five letters (that spell vibes – one of my all time favorite words) and applied strips of washi tape in randomized sections. I applied the washi tape to the letters before painting them because the tape does not stick as well to painted surfaces. I then painted the uncovered areas with alternating colors to create a mix-match effect. If you don’t want to use washi tape on your design, you can use regular masking tape, then peel it off for well-defined striped patterns. 🙂

I decided to film a video (see below) for this week’s project as well to give you an idea of what the process was like! I hope you find it helpful for if you want to create these projects on your own! 🙂

And that is it for this week’s DIY Dorm Decor project! I had a lot of fun making these wall designs, and I’m so excited to show you the final decorated result in a few weeks! How are you planning on decorating your dorm room this year? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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DIY Dorm Decor: Washi Tape Mason Jars

DIY-2It’s hard to believe that August is almost here! With August comes back-to-school season, and recently I’ve been reflecting on how to make this year the best one yet. I am a huge fan of Pinterest and of DIY projects, and as a result decided to start this DIY Dorm Decor series! I hope to inspire you to DIY your dorm room decor, and to show you how fun and cost-effective this can be!

The first project in this series is Washi Tape Mason Jars (with matching school supplies). I spent quite a bit of time at my desk last year (especially during the snowy months!), and often found that its level of organization would decrease as the week progressed. What was once organized chaos became complete chaos. I would lose pens as I was using them, only to find them at the end of the year. Because of this, I thought I would find a way to make organization more seamless.

I love mason jar crafts, and found a simple DIY to make mason jar school supply holders for a desktop or windowsill. I loved this idea so much that I decided to make some of my own! These are perfect for holding pencils, highlighters, and pens in an organized place, and they eliminate the need for opening drawer after drawer in hopes of finding a lost pen.

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Materials

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What You Need:

  • Pint-Sized Mason Jars (I used 3)
  • Variety of Washi Tape in Colors/Patterns that Inspire You
  • Craft Paper
  • Stickers (if desired)
  • An assortment of pens, pencils, and highlighters
  • Scissors

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The first step for completing this DIY is to unscrew the caps on all of the mason jars, and remove the small metal insert in the lids. You should now have a cap with a large hole in the middle, and this will be where your items can be placed into the jar.

You can leave the lids off for the moment, and gather your first mason jar, washi tape, scissors, and craft paper. Now for the fun part! I’ve been loving pastel colors and inspirational quotes lately, so I chose to use pastel colored craft paper and inspirational washi tape for my mason jars. 🙂

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My Mason Jar Design

Select the washi tape you would like to use, and cut strips in sizes that reflect the design you desire. Place the tape onto the jar, and secure by flattening with your fingers. Repeat for all of your washi tape until you have created your ideal design. You may also use stickers or other decorative materials to personalize your jars.

Once the jar is designed, fold up a piece of colorful craft paper in the shape of a telescope. Place the rolled up craft paper inside of the mason jar to see where it needs to be cut (at the end of the glass section of the jar). Use scissors to cut the craft paper tube to the correct size, and secure the shape with strips of washi tape. You should now have something that resembles a paper towel cardboard insert.

Place the craft paper tube inside the mason jar and you’re done! 🙂 Now for what will go inside of the jars. This next step is optional, but is a fun add-on if you already know what school supplies you will be using this year.

Washi Tape Pen Designs

Gather your pens, pencils, and highlighters and place them on a flat surface. One by one, cover the barrel of each writing utensil with strips of washi tape to create unique designs. Repeat this step until all of your items are customized and ready to go. I love this step because not only is it a lot of fun, but it makes your items easily identifiable in a crowd of similar pens, pencils, and highlighters.

The final step is to place your writing utensils in the jars, and admire your creation! I love how my jars turned out, and I’m so excited to have a clutter-free desk space and a set location for all of my writing materials! 🙂

If you choose to do this DIY, post it on Instagram and tag me (@debellita)! I would love to see what you come up with! You can also Tweet me (@alyssa_debella) a picture of your DIY. What will you use your jars for? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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Washi Tape Pencil Designs
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Finished Mason Jar Project
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Mason Jar School Supply Storage Ideas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©2016 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Your First Year of College: What to Expect

Your First Year of College_My first year of college is quickly coming to a close, and I can’t believe how quickly it went! Finals week is rapidly approaching, and soon it will be time to pack up for a few months off. As I recalled my memories of this year, I realized that there are quite a few things that I wished I had known before I started on this journey. Given that my year has been both exciting and difficult, I thought I would share what I have learned in hopes that it helps those of you preparing to head off to college this coming year. 🙂

New Student Orientation and the First Week

New Student Orientation and the first week of the college experience are definitely quite overwhelming. I remember being completely exhausted after new student weekend, wondering how I was going to get the energy to continue adjusting to all of my new classes. I am someone who is naturally introverted, though I like to meet new people and experience new things. Due to the minutely-scheduled orientation program, I became mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Not only was I trying to adjust to my surroundings, but I was constantly making first impressions around every corner.

maple-leaf-638022_640I wish that I had known that it is perfectly acceptable to decline one of many activities and take an hour or more to reflect on experiences and emotionally recharge. Had I taken the time to rest and refuel on my own, I probably would have been more invested and alert throughout orientation.

In addition to taking alone time, I wish that I had known that friend groups naturally form and diverge. Had I known this beforehand, I wouldn’t have tried to maintain friendships with everyone I met. While knowing many people at the surface level (name, key interests) is beneficial, it is okay to not be friends with everyone that you meet. You will gravitate toward people who share your interests and passions! Over the course of my year, I have become good friends with many of the people I had only known superficially through classes and other activities.

College Culture

I came into college knowing that I was not going to drink alcohol. I have many reasons for this, and am very comfortable with this decision. I recommend finalizing your stance on the party scene before coming to college. Make sure that you are making the decision for yourself, and that you are comfortable with the results. Knowing my stance on alcohol consumption made it easy for me to explain my preference to others, and they were able to understand my viewpoint.

table-71380_640That being said, if you choose not to drink, know that your decision to not consume alcohol is just as personal as someone’s decision to consume alcohol. Don’t distance yourself from people simply because they have a different perspective, as you won’t be able to grow and learn from your experiences. I have attended a few campus parties, but ultimately decided that they weren’t my scene. I was able to find other communities that fostered my interests while still maintaining a connection with the larger campus community.

Relationships are also another important aspect of college culture. Relationships in college can mean both romantic relationships and friendships. I also recommend thinking about what kinds of relationships you want to have while in college. For me, I decided that I wanted to develop a close friendship group while also having many acquaintances. This helped me navigate the first few months of college as I made this intention a reality. Additionally, I decided that I wanted a serious romantic relationship built on friendship over time. I thought about these considerations before heading off to college, and I am very grateful that I did. There is no “right” choice when it comes to friendships and relationships, and these choices will vary person by person. However, having your intentions in mind makes the first few months of college much less stressful.

Academics 

notes-514998_640Before coming to college, I recommend thinking about what academic areas you might be interested in exploring further. This doesn’t mean that you have to have your entire future planned out, but even knowing whether you have academic areas of interest or not is a very important distinction. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry! Your academic advisor will be able to make suggestions during pre-registration. If you do know what your goals are, make sure to let your advisor know. If your college has core requirements, you will be able to build a balanced schedule of subjects that will allow you to explore new fields or continue work in fields you are already interested in.

Also think about what kind of learner you are. Are you better in morning classes or in afternoon ones? How do you take notes? Do you prefer tests or essays? These qualities will affect what courses you decide to take. Your advisor will most likely challenge you to take classes that are outside of your comfort zone, and this is a wonderful way to learn. I found out that I perform better in afternoon classes, and as such I work my campus job in the mornings before my scheduled classes.

book-168824_640Regardless of your academic area of interest, there is one guaranteed aspect of all college courses: there is a lot of reading. Though I took a challenging courseload in high school, I was unprepared for the amount of reading college classes require. Because of this, I recommend that you practice reading with intention. Learn how to look for the research question, thesis, and supporting arguments. You will be required to read hundreds of pages per week, and being able to read efficiently will be essential to your success. Many colleges have a Reading Lab where you can learn how to read high-level academic writing at a more efficient pace.

Living On Your Own

laundry-saloon-567951_640Living on your own for the first time can definitely be intimidating. But you aren’t alone, and everyone around you is adjusting as well. I often find that laundry and dish washing are tasks that are best done on a Friday or over the weekend. During the week I focus primarily on academics, and other time-sensitive tasks. I recommend learning how your college runs its laundry facilities before you arrive. Some colleges have money you can put on your ID card, others require coins for operation. Additionally, many college washing machines are now designed to have you use Tide Pods™ or a similar product. These look like dishwasher tabs, and you just throw them in with your clothes instead of pouring detergent into the machine. I highly recommend them! Laundry has become much easier without having to lug around a huge container of detergent. I also recommend making sure that you have a laundry basket that is easy to carry down a set (or many sets) of stairs.

Know that it is okay to ask for help! There are many situations that I wasn’t sure how to handle, and seeking help relieved the stress that comes with adjustment. College mixes academics with real life, allowing you to get use to adult life while preparing for a career.

I hope this post helped those of you who will be heading to college in the Fall! Feel free to leave questions in the comments, and I will be happy to answer them! If you’ve already been through college (or part of it), what do you wish you had known? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Staying Positive

Staying PositiveMy first year of college is coming to a close (I can hardly believe it!), and I have been reflecting on all that I have learned this past year. To me, it is amazing how much you can change just in one year’s time. I feel as though I am a completely different person from the Alyssa I was a year ago, and I have definitely gone through a rollercoaster of emotions and events to get here.

I have learned that as you grow older, life becomes more stressful. While this may seem like a given, the types of stress change over time. As a college student, my stress branches from grades, homework assignments, and having an incredibly busy schedule. As an adult, the stress becomes more divided: bills to pay, job requirements, relationships, financial maintenance, and more. It seems as though the older you get, the more mundane life becomes. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

flowers-1325012_640As I have grown older, the smaller things in life have become more significant. A beautiful sunrise, blooming flowers, a smile from a stranger. As I go through my daily life, my vision has transformed from a  telescope to a microscope. I am no longer looking for significant occurrences to ground my happiness. While I once would have passed by a blooming flower as I hurried on about my day, I now take the time to live in the moment and admire its beauty.

As I am sure you may have gathered from previous posts, I have become quite familiar with struggle this year. There were times when I felt as though being positive was an impossible goal that only others could attain. I could not feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I did not stop to admire the flower. My days became a blur of structured, gray events that I cannot even begin to distinguish. How did I break out of this blur of negativity? I thought outside of the box.

new-brighton-1239724_640I began to see life as it truly is: wonderful. Though we may not be feeling our best some days, being alive is a magical thing. Once I looked at my world through this perspective, I saw a kaleidoscope of new colors. The sunrise painted a mural in the sky, the flowers swayed in the breeze. The birds sang their usual morning song, and I felt as though I was finally awake. Once I broke out of my negativity, I actively worked to stay in my place of newfound positivity. Below are a few of the steps that I took to recenter myself, and remain in a positive place despite the daily setbacks that come with life.

Music

headphones-925799_640Music is key to maintaining my state of positivity. On Spotify I was able to search through their ‘Moods’ category to find playlists such as ‘Happy Go Lucky’ and ‘Happy Day’. These playlists made great background music, and subconsciously switched my perspective to one of joy and contentment. I am also a fan of ‘Afternoon Acoustic’ for quiet afternoons spent reading and studying.

Organization

paint-1280557_640I love organized spaces. Over the course of the year, my room had drifted into controlled chaos as I attempted to reconcile with my heavy courseload and busy schedule. While listening to upbeat tunes, I organized all of my class work, computer files, and miscellaneous items into a workable space. I recycled piles upon piles of unneeded papers and boxes, and felt emotionally lighter as a result. I also redecorated my workspace in order to promote positive vibes. I took liquid chalk markers in a variety of colors and wrote inspirational quotes from my “Things to Live By” Pinterest board on whiteboards surrounding my desk space. This pop of color truly transformed the mood of my desk into one that radiated with much-needed energy.

Self-Scheduling

day-planner-828611_640One of the most important things I have learned about my own positivity is schedule management. I have learned to listen to my internal voice, and adhere to what it suggests. When I am sitting down to do homework, for example, I will start with what I feel inspired to do. Even if it isn’t the task with the highest priority, I know that I will be in a better space if I listen to what my mind wants to focus on. The same goes for social events. There are times when I need alone time to focus on work or rest, and other times when I need to be surrounded by supportive friends. I am no longer afraid of conveying my needs to others, and communicating the reasoning behind these decisions. My mood and relationships with others have greatly improved, as I have made sure to only dedicate positive energy to these aspects of my life.

As the semester comes to a close, I am grateful for what I have learned. Instead of going through the motions week by week, I have slowed down to appreciate the life I am living. Despite daily setbacks, I am able to remain in a positive sphere by nurturing my own needs and seeing life’s small joys in every moment.

How do you stay positive? I would love to hear in the comments! Spreading positivity is one of life’s many joys! 🙂

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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What Happened When I Left My Comfort Zone

FRISCOAs I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I was walking into the unknown. The sea of many thousand faces, with mine featured on the event center big screen, greeted me as I left familiarity. For the past four years I had known what to expect. Though life changes did occur, I would always resettle into my comfort zone.

My alarm would sound at 6am. I would get ready for the day, eat a bowl of cereal (or five, as those who have seen me eat breakfast very well know), drive to school, volunteer after school, return for dinner, complete my homework, go to bed, and repeat. My days always followed this pattern, with weekends holding more time for reading and catching up on sleep. During high school, I never took a chance. I shied away from clubs, sports, dances, and other school events. I was comfortable with where I was, but was no stranger to the monotony of routine.

Though I smiled as I walked across the stage, I was terrified. This was my biggest life change, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready. But what I’ve learned from stepping into this unknown is that we may never be ready. No matter how prepared you think you might be, or how confident you are in your direction, there will always be something that challenges you. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

woodland-1031154_640Last summer I went from graduating high school, to taking a family trip abroad, to moving houses, to beginning college. Almost all of what was familiar had changed, and I was beginning my own life for the first time. For someone who had rarely left their comfort zone, these new experiences left me feeling as though I was lost in a forest with no compass to guide me. There was no returning to the past, and I had to learn to use the stars to guide me into my new dawn.

When I left my comfort zone, I left the old me behind and started anew. Finding myself has been a journey that is far from over, and though I am constantly changing my routine, I feel more grounded than ever before. A year ago, a small change in my schedule would have thrown off my inner balance. Now, I am constantly changing up my routine and interactions in order to avoid routine.

As many of you know, I traveled to Virginia over Spring Break. A year ago, if you had asked me “how do you feel about traveling on your own to a different state to experience an unfamiliar environment with people you don’t yet know?” I would have politely declined such an offer.

When I was thirteen, I surprised my family (and myself!) by deciding to go on a week long backpacking trip with the Women’s Wilderness Institute. I took off into the wilderness, with all of my travel companions being virtual strangers. I came out of this experience with a heightened self-awareness and confidence. In high school I lost my sense of adventure, only to have it return once I left my comfort zone.

The saying “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” could not be more true. Every time I have decided to step out of my comfort zone, I have come closer to finding out who I am and where I belong. As such, I have decided to actively live outside of my comfort zone. In doing so, I have met the most incredible people and have had many adventures worth remembering. My new goal is to live outside of my comfort zone, and embody my newfound spirit of adventure.

What do you think about living life outside of your comfort zone? I would love to hear your stories! Leave them in the comments below or email me at thewisewillowblog@gmail.com, it makes my day to read your responses! 🙂

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella

 

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Travel Diaries: Virginia

Travel Diaries_ VirginiaFor this week’s post I have a video of my Spring Break trip to Virginia. I had the most wonderful time, and spent the first full week on an Externship where I shadowed an alum of my college in Charlottesville, VA. I then spent the second week wandering around Charlottesville and Waynesboro, and enjoying time with friends and family.

I hope you enjoy my video blog (I am excited to start this Travel Diaries series!), and let me know if you would like to see more videos like this in the future. Next week I will be back with a more traditional post, and I am always looking for topic suggestions if there is anything that you would like to see! Comment below, email me at thewisewillowblog@gmail.com, or message me on Twitter (@alyssa_debella)! 🙂

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Alyssa DeBella

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! I'm a third-year college student passionate about writing, minimalism, vegan living, and coffee. I would love for you to join my online family!
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New video on my @YouTube for those who would like to see my vegan dream oatmeal recipe! Let me know if you try it! https://t.co/SJVtERe7ae

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