Late night creative self

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.26.49 PM By Danielle Emeka

We’ve all done it. Put things off till the last minute. It’s called procrastination. That sudden realization that it’s 10:00 pm, something is due tomorrow morning and not one word has been written.

Procrastination is happening even as I write this. The sun is asleep, my eyes are tired from staring constantly at a screen and my fingers are shuffling along the keyboard searching for the right letters. My bed taunts me, callingdaring me to sink into its covers.  

But in these moments my mind makes connections unlike any other time. Some of my best writing and art has come from late night studying. Sometimes it feels like structured sabotage, setting myself up for failure and fighting against it with everything I have. Like it’s all or nothing, using all my mental focus and creative energy combined with the pressures of time. Nothing beats the thrill of finishing the work just before it’s due. Knowing that all I have to offer is in that work.

I don’t know if lack of sleep creates a break in my natural inhibitions, allowing me to develop what comes to me. Maybe it’s just a race to see how soon I can embrace the relief of sleep. But I can’t deny my fascination with my late night creative self.

Going Beyond Self-care

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.22.40 PM By: Philip Hartman

What is self-care, anyway? I hear that word floating around a lot these days, coming from the internet and from friends. Yet I am still perplexed by the concept of “self-care”. I’m a senior at Portland State University who works part time and rarely has time to himself. Yet with the pressures of school and personal life, I feel a bit overwhelmed—as if the world is on my shoulders. Those feelings slowly creep into my life in different ways, from depression to anxiety. It can affect my grades as the term progresses, and it can impact relationships too. I try to work on getting better, but it does not seem to work.

After a few weeks of working on my self-care I decided to get up the nerve and go to PSU’S Center For Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) to get some help. I felt uneasy having to discuss what is going on in my life and that things weren’t getting any better. Yet the staff were very helpful and showed me the steps to get an appointment and talk to one of the counselors. After waiting for a few minutes I met a counselor and it wasn’t as bad like, as I had imagined it. It really helped to talk to someone. I kept going to SHAC to get help and slowly but surely I was able to ease a bit and relax more.

Life doesn’t pause for depression or anxiety, but that does not mean you have to suffer through it alone.

Object Impermanence

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.26.49 PM By Danielle Emeka

I took his shirt out of my dresser and layed it against the carpet. I checked my lines with a steady hand full of assurance, guided the scissors as they cut through all that I had hidden away. A year of memories, longing, love and tears were held within the fabric. I viewed my work. “Cute,” I thought as a examined the new crop top I’d just created. I had held onto his shirt for nearly two years. In the drawer it had stayed. I had never put it on. Away from the light and, out of my sight, and unable to force me to think about him. It still smelled like him after all this time. Cocoa butter and castor oil woven with his natural scent.

Then one day I saw it for what it was. Just a shirt an ex had left behind. The hold it had on me was gone and I had to do something with it. I knew I couldn’t throw it away, for  that would be denying the experiences I had with him. Perhaps I make new memories with it. Better ones.

I’m taking the same approach to this new year.  Aside from school, work, dating and general day-to day-things. I’m working on parts of my past and not letting them take control of me. Some are still sitting in a drawer in my mind, hidden away from the light. One day I’ll have the courage to open that drawer, find what’s inside and see what I can transform it into.  

Life is too short, Let’s go on a walk

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.22.40 PM By Philip Hartman

I woke up the sound of heavy rain drops hitting the window. What did I see? It’s another wet day in Portland, Oregon. It’s hard to wake up to a gloomy winter’s day without wanting to fall back to bed. Yet we all get up and start the day going to classes and work, but sometimes we miss out on what the season has to offer. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you can can’t find great ways to stay active and engaged all winter.

The rainy season can be filled with adventures from PSU Campus Rec to the outdoors. Each has a place for students like to me to explore and try new things. As one who experiences seasonal depression, I appreciate being able to utilize the Campus Rec. PSU’s fitness and wellness center. It helps me stay active and boost endorphins that make me feel better through the gloomy season. Whenever I choose to work out I feel a sense of accomplishment because I set goals, from short term one of doing a different reps to long term one of building up muscles.

While Campus Rec is great space to be active indoors the outdoors also can be a fun adventure, despite the wet. The landscape of the rainy season brings vibrant green to the Pacific Northwest, from the moss that lays on the trees; to the ferns that enjoy the rains of winter. Hiking can be a bit difficult in the wet season, but with good rain gear anything is achievable.

Even though the wet rainy season of Portland add challenges to stay active, there is much to do outside of that comfy bed. Try and get out! You never know what fun adventures you’ll have!

Natural Hair Journey

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.26.49 PM By Danielle Emeka

I started my natural hair transition about three years ago. I put the straightener and blow dryer in storage and embarked on my own personal hair journey. Maybe it wasn’t the best time being a student taking 12-16 credits a term, working part time, and still trying to find time to eat and sleep, but there never is a perfect time.  

A black woman’s hair is her crown and I wanted to grow mine. Learning about my hair’s texture, porosity and what it loves and hates was a big challenge. But I’ve learned more about myself in the process.

In college, multitasking is a way of life, and my natural hair journey forced me to become better organized in that I had to schedule my wash days. Nothing is worse than having to decide between washing a two week old twist out and finishing that essay! After many discussions with myself over the bathroom mirror, detangling my hair with a wide-tooth comb. Tangles are all too very real. The longer one goes between washes, the longer it takes to get all the tangles out. I will never again wait too long to wash my hair. Learn to be more patient. It’s called wash day for a reason. You can’t expect perfect curls and healthy hair if you aren’t willing to put the work in. I love myself and my uniqueness. Yes, my hair is different than most. I couldn’t love it any more.

College is all about self exploration and discovery. We’re all here not just to get a degree but to learn about what kind of person we are. For the black students who are  pondering starting their journey, do it! If you’ve already taken the plunge, congrats! Don’t give up. It will get easier. I promise.

Changing Seasons

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.22.40 PM By Philip Hartman

Autumn is slowly changing into winter. The leaves that once shone brightly in the trees on those clear crisp fall days have long since faded into the ground. Walking across the Park Blocks to class and seeing those vivid colors become muck reminds me of the change of the seasons.

As I start my senior year at Portland State I become uneasy with what the future holds. Can I actually succeed in the career path that I worked so hard for? My insecurities slowly fade as I realize I’m not the only one who has these thoughts. I’m not alone. The seasons do change, but I’ve made a variety of friends on campus who lessened my fears and insecurities for the future.

It’s not selfish to think about these thoughts, but to keep moving forward without holding back.

With each passing season let’s not hold back from our dreams. Every day is a new day in which we can succeed.

Why do we fear change?

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.33.32 PM By Jasmin Landa

I ask myself this question every single day.

I have found that sometimes change can bring about new aspects in one’s life that are exposed as agents of growth. For example, my senior year has begun at PSU, and I know big changes are coming. This has forced me to decide: Do I fear these changes, or do I embrace them?

For example, this past year I was able to travel abroad to Japan — an opportunity that I was scared to embark on. I kept trying to convince myself that I couldn’t sustain myself in a foreign country with a foreign language. I scheduled a meeting with my international adviser, and I expressed my concerns about how nervous I was about the new challenge I was about to embark on — one that was going to bring about a new level of capacity, a new level of discomfort and adaptability. As I was explaining my fears, she stopped me, and asked, “Jasmin, life is about change, and I want you to know that you have a community of people that believe in your growth and in your journey. Japan is waiting for you.” A month later, I was on a plane headed to Japan to what has now been the best experience I have ever had.

So when I think of change, I realized that I can fear it or face it. I know that change occurs in all students, and we all reach a fork in the road where we must find the ways to embrace change. I encourage you to find the ways that make change a life changing experience.