Bullet Journal for the Win

By: Ragan Love

During my senior year of high school, my puppy got into my backpack and chewed up my planner. I was about to leave the house for an important audition, and I saw all of my important events scattered across the ground. My dad helped salvage the pieces so we could record the events and homework I had. 

The next week I went to the store to find a planner, and I realized I hated all of the ones in stock. I tried thinking of the positives, and I couldn’t do it. I went home that day and did some research on making a DIY planner for the rest of the semester. This is when I came across the Bullet Journal. 

A bullet journal is a planning style created by New York designer Ryder Carroll. He describes this as a way to “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” A bullet journal goes farther than the basic planner because every individual can create what they want to log. You can create your own weekly school lists, an exercise or practice log, or a month, term, or yearly goals.

At first, I was anxious looking at everything that these people put in their planners; it was every aspect of their life! My planner has always been strictly for school, and this was the first time that I thought about expanding. What I first included was a practice planner, where I wrote down every piece I wanted to practice that day. This got too tedious for me because I have a 90-minute practice routine. Once summer hit it was hard to keep up with it because I didn’t know what to write. I ended up turning each page into a daily to-do list.

When the fall quarter started I decided to create an efficient bullet journal. Before school started, I watched a few different videos on YouTube, trying to get some ideas of formats that would work for me. I spit my planner into 9 different sections with a week running from Monday to Sunday. Then I added an overall weekly to-do and practice list. I didn’t try the mood trackers or meal plans at first because I wanted to focus on finding something I really liked and slowly expanding. I did like this layout. The only aspect that I changed was I took out my weekly practice and started a music notebook where I included all of my musical work. I drew out the entire quarter and then put my quarter goals at the end. I liked this because I couldn’t see my goals until after the term ended.

I have just completed my spread for the winter term. I am pleased with how it looks, and it has helped me stay organized so far this term. I have added some new spreads that I am excited to try out. One is a February mood tracker (I picked the shortest month for a reason). The other spreads are for overall 2020, like books to read this year and other things I would like to check out. My main goal with my bullet journal is to keep up with it all year, even when I have a week where I am off my game. 

I am happy that my dog ate my planner because it allowed me to find new ways to organize my life.

Finding a New Hobby

By: Ragan Love

My favorite activity has always been creating and playing music, but when college started my hobby turned into my main academic focus. It led to a creative block that lasted several months.  Playing my favorite instrument felt like a chore.It made me sad that my escape had turned into a daunting task. I decided that I wanted to find a new hobby that I could turn to when my brain was overloaded with music information.

I thought about other activities I enjoyed before college started. I used to spend my free time reading, cooking, and sewing. It’s hard for me to do much cooking or baking because I have a small kitchen space, and I am trying to use the meal plan as much as possible. I have tried reading, but I need a light school reading load if I want to dive into a good book. That left sewing, and I went online to look for ideas. This is when I saw needle-point kits! My grandmother taught me needlepoint , but it had been years since I had tried it. I found a  cute flower three-pack and decided to try it out. The first one I did was a simple, but cute, plant design. I started it in October and slowly finished this project for my friend’s Christmas present.

During winter break, I started a new project, a tiny avocado. Only a few inches tall, the design took a few hours to finish. I really enjoyed this one because I got to work on it while relaxing with my family in Colorado! I actually turned this needlepoint into a magnet for my grandmother’s birthday, and she absolutely loved it. 

I am currently working on two different designs. I plan to keep these for myself.   One is a needlepoint on a wooden canvas and pictures a mountain scene. My friend gave this to me when I was getting a little homesick, and I can’t wait for it to be completed so I can have it on my desk as a memory of home.

My new hobby gives me a mental break from playing the flute. Needle-point projects make wonderful gifts for friends and family, and you can work on them throughout the year. I think that creative burnout is a challenging part of college that is not talked about, but it is important to take a mental break from your professional passion.  Needlepoint helps me get into a better creative space for performing music.

Coming Back Home

By: Ragan Love

I moved away from Colorado for the first time in September. I talk to my family pretty often, so I  didn’t think it would be that hard to adjust to home life when I went back for the holidays. It was actually more difficult than I expected. 

I come from a family of three: my dad, my little brother and me. When high school ended, I started working full time at a restaurant and came home to clean and cook dinner for my family. This became the norm for my family, and when I left for school in September, they didn’t realize how much they depended on me. When I talked to them after the first month, they hadn’t eaten  a home-cooked meal, checked the mail, or vacuumed the living room. It got to the point where the mailman actually put a box on the porch filled with all the mail. This is when it really hit all three of us life had changed. I began to jokingly text them reminders to do their chores, and by November, they were actually doing them.

When I got home after the fall quarter I felt like I was a guest in my own house. All of my old tasks now belonged to my brother or dad. If I wanted to clean anything my father would stop me because he didn’t want me having to clean where I wasn’t living anymore. When I wanted to cook dinner, my dad told me that he already had a plan for our dinner. One moment that really stuck out to me is my second night home when we were planning to have ramen for dinner. I came into the kitchen to help but my dad and brother had everything covered; there was nothing for me to do. That was the first time that I hadn’t helped with our family dinner, and it made me feel like a stranger.

I was warned how different it would be coming home for the first time after starting college, but I didn’t expect that I would feel like my family didn’t need me anymore. I thought that this is how my dad would feel, not me. It wasn’t all negative. I had moments that made me happy to be back home. I am pretty close to my little brother and during break he was constantly asking for help on college applications and told me how he was happy that I was home. We got to chill out and talk about everything that’s been happening without one of us cutting out on FaceTime.

I think I shouldn’t have expected my household to be the same after leaving for four months. It wasn’t just hard for me. My brother and dad also had to adjust to my absence. My brother is heading off to school in the fall, and our family dynamic will change again once we are both out of the house. Instead of feeling a sense of loss, I now view this transition as a chance for all three of us to grow and be our own people.

A Love for Classical Music

I have been playing classical flute repertoire for seven years, but it wasn’t until recently that I acquired a love for listening to the genre. Here are some of my favorite pieces that I hope will open up your mind to classical music. 

Nicole Chamberlain– Crunchy

When introducing others to classical music, I always start off with a contemporary artist because it is more exciting. Nicole Chamberlain is a 21st Century artist who explores extended techniques on the flute. Extended techniques are simply funky sounds on an instrument. This piece asks the player to beatbox throughout by saying the words, “za’s, ka’s, ta’s” into the flute. This is part of a suite that Chamberlain called “Smorgasbord,” and it includes four other movements that also bring the piccolo into play. 

Samuel Barber– Canzone for flute

My flute professor recently introduced me to this piece, and it is now one of my favorites. Barber is a 20th Century American composer and wrote many different pieces for choir, violin, and strings. This particular piece is slow and very lyrical. As a performer, it’s a fun piece because it gives me room for expression and expanded throughout the flute’s register. One of my favorite parts about playing the flute is how rich the low register can be and this piece shows off that part of the instrument. 

Bach– Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

This is probably the most famous cello song and is my cello piece, but I absolutely love this cover by the piano guys. They arranged this solo piece to be played by seven cellos. This is the biggest part of the Suite and is filled with arpeggiated chords. Bach is one of the iconic composers, so much that his birth and death year are the start and end of the Baroque era. Interestingly, he died from complications of eye surgery at 65. 

Claude Debussy– Clair De Lune

Every time I hear this piece I begin to tear up!  Clair De Lune is French for “light of the moon,” and I first played an arrangement of it for one of my high school marching band shows. Debussy wrote this piece in 1890 when he was only 28 years old, but it wasn’t published for another 15 years. This is a very simple piano piece and is very straightforward to play. 

Traveling in College

by Ragan Love

This past Veteran’s Day , I traveled to Saint George, Utah, to see my younger brother perform in a national marching band competition. I knew this trip was coming, but I didn’t realize how quickly the school year would go by. This past week I felt as if I was scrambling to prepare myself for the trip. As students we have a habit of biting off more than we can chew, and that can cause stress on vacation and get in the way of spending quality time with your family. I was determined not to let that happen. The first thing I did to prepare for this trip was to compile a list of homework I needed to get done and prioritize assignments. My main focus was working on my Honors 101 summary of argument essay. After that, I planned to work on scholarships, read for University Studies and practice. I told my family that I wanted an hour each day to work with no distractions. I also planned to use any free time to study. . 

As a music major, it’s more difficult for me to bring my homework on the road. It is easy to bring a flute on a plane, but when you spend your whole day hanging out with your family, it’s hard to make time to practice. When I am on the road, I bring the pieces that I am working on, find a good quality recording on YouTube, and then air and finger along with the video on a pencil. I don’t work on improving my skills or increasing tempos, I focus on keeping the music in my fingers. This allowed me to show my family some of the repertoire that I get to play this quarter.

For non-performance majors, I suggest taking your notes and reading through them when you have free time. This time is not about gaining knowledge, it is about retaining knowledge. 

I also suggest that you create a buffer time when you get back to get yourself reorganized – even if it’s just a few hours to recheck assignments and finish up any loose odds or ends. 

By sticking to this plan, I was able to enjoy the time with my family.  NowI am back at school, and I do not feel like I have fallen behind.I hope my experience can help you learn how to balance homework with vacation time.

Surviving the First Week at Portland State

by Ragan Love

What I was most worried about with starting college was how I would survive classes, friends, and adulting. By the end of the move-in weekend, I was feeling much more confident. Now that I am in the fourth week of school, I feel as if I know how to navigate this crazy chapter, and I have a few tips to share.

Keep your door open: This may seem scary but you might need to sacrifice some of your privacy for the sake of meeting people. The first night, most of the residents of my hall were out at a Vik Nights event that I didn’t want to attend, but I saw someone’s door open, I walked in to say hi, and now she is one of my closest friends.

Fill your calendar with events: When the Vik Nights schedule is released, put everything you want to do and kind of want to do into your calendar. You will meet a bunch of people with common interests at these events and will find out about many wonderful clubs and organizations on campus. 

Do one thing out of your comfort zone: It is easy to be overwhelmed during move-in weekend, but don’t let that stop you from trying something new! Talk to someone, join a club, or explore the campus and city. 

Remember to have fun! The move-in weekend gives you time to explore and enjoy campus before the grind of school begins. Take advantage of all of the free food and activities and have fun!