Reviving Your Childhood and Satisfying Your Insatiable Curiosity

At a young age, my parents encouraged my brother and I to explore. I spent my childhood conducting my own experiments outside during summer days in Texas. Even today, at 18, I enjoy lifting up rocks to find a slew of different creatures. (Only now I look them up online if I want to identify them – which I usually do!) I still capture spiders in and around my house, identify them, observe their behaviors, and let them go outside, I pull out earthworms from the dirt and look at them with awe, and I fly paper airplanes and try to create the most efficient one. My brother and I even have fencing matches with the water noodles at the grocery store.

Don’t ever lose this. Now my childhood curiosity blossomed into a strong interest in everything and gave me a strong basis of knowledge. (Plus it was so fun!)

If you’ve never gone outside to play wall ball or TV tag with your siblings, or gotten your feet a little dirty… If you’ve never had water gun battles, or sold lemonade or made paper boats, do it now!

Many of us have forgotten how to do this without guilt or anxiety that, as adults, we must be doing something that is worthwhile. Don’t forget to take some time away from your responsibilities and satisfy your natural human curiosity, and you have kids, share this experience with them!

Some psychotherapists call your inner child the “true self”. Spending some time with this inner child can boost your self-esteem and help you solve deep-rooted problems. Remember: talk with your inner child as if you were its guardian, reassure it, and uncover any internal battles.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!

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The Psychology Behind Procrastination

Now that people world-wide have their own personal computers, cell phones, access to the internet and video games of every variety, procrastination has arisen as a top cause of stress in our lives. I’m no exception. It’s difficult even for me to open up a Word document and start writing an Economics essay when I have a whole world of information, games, and social connections at my fingertips.

We come in many forms (we’re a highly evolved breed!) ranging from those who simply seek the excitement of working under pressure to those who refuse to make decisions as a way to avoid responsibility for the outcome of a task.

Psychologists believe procrastination has three recognizable traits: the task must be counter-productive, delaying, and needless.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Sometimes, when I think of writing my weekly essay, my stomach ties in a knot. I worry about how long it will take and if I’ll write it well. Then I think of everything else I could be doing instead of writing this paper. Important tasks we do not do daily usually come with some kind of anxiety when starting or finishing. Psychologists believe procrastination is a coping mechanism for this anxiety. It is a fear of failure. Maybe even a fear of success.

Checking your email while there’s a report to be written or a room to be cleaned is the perfect example of procrastination. We actively look for distractions that don’t require much thought. Television is also another enabler. Procrastinators yearn for this distraction to normalize their feelings of anxiety.

How does it start?

Some procrastinators come from strict parents. Having parents who control everything will lessen a child’s ability to regulate his or her self in the future. It can even be a form of rebellion! Conversely, parents who procrastinate, do their Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, and don’t pay their bills on time can rub-off on children as well.

Why is it so bad?

Speaking from personal experience alone, I have spent long and sleepless nights writing papers or completing entire projects I pushed until the very end. Just recently I put off my entire English portfolio until a FEW HOURS before it was due, and instead of an easy “A”, I received a “C” for the class. My work was not up to its potential had I have given it time. Getting no sleep can also affect your immune system and you’ll get sick easier and feel groggy. It’s obvious what kind of affect it can have on your grades. Just think what path my life would be heading down if I did this for every class and every assignment! These affects only get worse over time.

How do we stop?

People all around have published countless strategies to banish this bad behavior and different people call for different strategies. I implore you to visit some of my favorite webpages of ways to quit procrastinating and find one that fits you best!

These are just  few of many different ways to overcome procrastination and to finally make time your friend. Many books, essays, articles, and pamphlets have been published on the matter. Keep searching until you find a solution that fits you!

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A Different Perspective: Reality Simulation

Imagine we’re living in someone else’s computer simulation or someone else’s movie. Some kind of simulated reality. Nothing is different. Our feelings are real and really there, but we’re just characters in this simulation made by someone “bigger”. Someone who is observing us or possibly controlling our fates. Characters that feel, do, and think just as our “creator” does. Why not? We are getting closer and closer to creating simulations just like this. Ever play The Sims?

Maybe we’re part of some infinite loop of simulations. Maybe our video games and simulations that mirror our own reality (or even other realities) house people just like us, with feelings just like us, with the ability to think about and question their own reality, just like us. In their own little world. Maybe Sonic the Hedgehog is real in his mind! Maybe the Green Hill Zone is real… in their world.

Or maybe not! Maybe that’s too silly.

I’ve been thinking of doing frequent posts like this that just give you a different perspective on our different aspects of life. Some aspects may be bigger, deeper, and more meaningful (and possibly controversial) like this one talking about our reality, and some may be small like looking through the eyes of someone more impoverished or taking a different view into the mind of someone who maybe does something socially unacceptable. I love changing perspectives and seeing the world from different eyes. It opens up my own eyes and also a whole new world and way of thinking.

(There’s a theory for this entitled the Simulation Theory or the Simulation Argument. I haven’t had time to read up on it, but I feel I will soon. I want to touch up on it more later, it’s really interesting.)

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Saturday Sprinkles 02.21.09

Saturday Sprinkles is a weekly highlight of interesting and useful finds:

  • Vimeo featured a gorgeous short love film comprised of 4500+ still images. Very endearing!
  • Some bizarre, but truthful tips on ways to survive a recession with an empty wallet. They discuss diet changes like putting an egg in your ramen and cutting that Caramel Macchiato.
  • Exactitudes (from “exact” and “attitude”) is an interesting photography project which snaps images of individuals in similar poses and dress to observe thier attempts to distinguish themselves from others.
  • Some very interesting tests for different aspects of your mind! There’s a test for reading faces, which, afterward gives you some statistics and information on facial expressions. According to this, sticking your tongue out while concentrating could be an unconscious signal to others to just leave you alone! There’s also one testing your reliability as a witness! How did you do?
  • Stephen Wiltshire from London is an autistic savant who sketched an aerial view of Rome after one helicopter ride. See and read more at his website. Phenomenal.
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Using Erikson’s Developmental Stage Theory to put your Life into Perspective

The nice thing about Psychology is that we can apply lessons learned to our daily lives, become more aware, and live to our fullest. Being self-aware and creating our own identity is an important, almost necessary concept we should practice every day.

Erikson’s  Developmental Stage theory, is nothing too fancy or complicated. It’s a simple view on eight stages we go through in our lives. According to Erikson, we grow from infancy to late adulthood, and in each stage we must master a new challenge. Once we master a challenge, we gain a certain set of skills. If we do not master a certain challenge, there could be possible psychological consequences. It is not a definitive list, but there are lessons we can learn from his eight stages!

Using this as a guide, identify what you’ve accomplished, what you need to work on, and what you should remember for your future stages.

Stage 1

Infancy (birth to 18 mos.)

  • The challenge: Trust vs. Mistrust
  • What it means: We must learn to trust parents’ care and affection or else develop the beginning of a deep distrust and view world as unsafe.
  • What to take from it: Don’t just take care of your children, let them feel comfortable and safe when you’re around. Let them know, even if they are still too young, that they can trust you.
  • Do you trust the world around you? Do you have hope?

Stage 2

Toddler (18 mos. to 3 yrs.)

  • The challenge: autonomy vs. shame and doubt
  • What it means: We learn to be competent by learning to feed ourselves, use the toilet, and play alone or else we will feel ashamed and doubt our abilities.
  • What to take from it: Encourage toddlers to be autonomous individuals who can begin to take care of themselves.
  • Do you have strong willpower?

Stage 3

Preschool (3 to 5 yrs.)

  • The challenge: initiative vs. guilt
  • What it means: We use our own initiative in planning or carrying out plans or if we cannot live within parents’ limitations, we develop a sense of guilt over misbehavior
  • What to take from it: A child should be encouraged to start projects for their own purpose. Having the ability to take initiative without feeling guilty will allow one to plan and judge accordingly giving one a sense of roles.
  • Have you found your purpose and role in life and are you satisfied with it?

Stage 4

School age (5-11 yrs.)

  • The challenge: industry vs. inferiority
  • What it means: We learn to meet the demands imposed by school or home or else we come to believe we are inferior to others
  • What to take from it: Our responsibilities are what we use to prove to others that we are capable and on equal grounds to others. If we take on no responsibilities, we may begin to feel inferior. Work hard at being productive and responsible.
  • Do you feel competent?

Stage 5

Adolescence (11-18 yrs.)

  • The challenge: identity vs. role confusion
  • What it means: In this stage, we acquire a sense of our own identity or else become confused about our role in life
  • What to take from it: Settle on an identity that you are comfortable with. Ask questions about yourself. Show through your actions, appearance, and achievements what you want your role to be in life.
  • Who exactly are you? Are you happy with it?

Stage 6

Young Adulthood (18-40 yrs.)

  • The challenge: intimacy vs. isolation
  • What it means: We develop a couple relationship and joint identity with a partner or else become isolated from meaningful relationships with others
  • What to take from it: Here, we still want to have an identity with the world around us. If you fear rejection, forming intimate relationships will be difficult.
  • Are you open to new, close relationships? Do you fear rejection and being vulnerable? Erikson argues that:

“Intimacy has a counterpart: Distantiation: the readiness to isolate and if necessary, to destroy those forces and people whose essence seems dangerous to our own, and whose territory seems to encroach on the extent of one’s intimate relations” (1950)

Stage 7

Middle adulthood (40-65 yrs.)

  • The challenge: generativity vs. stagnation
  • What it means: We make use of our remaining time developing a concern with helping others and guiding the next generation or else we become self-centered, un-accepting of not being to see the far future, and stagnant
  • What to take from it: Help growing and grown children to be responsible adults, relinquish central role in lives of grown children, accept children’s mates and friends, be proud of accomplishments of your self and your mate. In this stage, we may have much leisure time.
  • Will you use that time to benefit the next generation and yourself or become stagnant?

Stage 8

Late adulthood (60+)

  • The challenge: integrity vs. despair
  • What it means: We reap the benefits of our early stages and understand and sccept the meaning of a temprary life or else we despair over regrets, not having enough time, and not finding meaning in life
  • What to take from it: In this stage, we tend to evaluate whether we’ve reached our goals and whether we are satisfied. From here, we can choose to accept the kind of life we lived and are living now or we can mourn over the past, our loss of time, and our fate.
  • What kind of life have you lived? Did you do what you wanted? Do you have regrets? Would you have done things differently?

By looking at what is to come, we are able to ensure – through every stage – that we are happy with the life that we live. Take each stage into consideration when making choices in your life. Go down the road you feel you will be happy with in the end.

We have long, long lives to live so make sure you enrich it and give it its full potential. If you couldn’t face a certain crises before, it’s all right. We’ve been given the ability to question our lives and behaviors and the ability to change them whenever we can. Use it!

trust vs mistrust
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Make Your Mark on the World: Other Information on Volunteering

Another beautiful day! Ohio weather is crazy. We had one amazing day with the hot sun and a cool breeze and the next day there was a huge storm. I don’t know what it is about this place, but most who live here say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!”

I apologize for the slow-down in posts, but there is a good reason! Last week I had exam week, and I am finally finished. Today I had a second interview with a job I applied for on campus and… I got the job! I’m very excited, and will probably start soon. The good news is, this job will allow me some more time to plan and write for Deliciae so there will be no dramatic changes. I may even post more.

This is the final post of the Make Your Mark series, which will focus on any extra information you may need to know including some small warnings, what to expect on your first few days of volunteering, and more.

If you’ve missed out on any or all of the rest of the series, here’s a list of what’s been going on:

Do Some Prior Research!

There are many reasons you should probably do a little research into an organization you’re looking to work for. If you’re volunteering at a building you know of and are familiar to, you need not worry, but if you’re volunteering for a “stranger” or a building you haven’t known previously, you should do a bit of a background check just to see if it is indeed a legit business who will be responsible with your personal information. I’m not saying there are many illegitimate businesses out there, but I think it’s good to take some caution!

You can do this on your own by doing a few simple Google searches, look up their background information, or even call and ask for further information about their organization, what their mission statement is, and what types of volunteers they are looking for.

What To Expect During Your First Few Days

1. During your first few days, you’ll most likely be filling out paperwork. Sometimes it’s necessary, but once you’re done with that, the work begins!

2. Your supervisor will show you the ropes, introduce you to other volunteers, and give you their policy.

3. Then the regular work begins! Stick with it. Some beginning work may feel tedious at first, but once you get the hang of it and realize how much you are actually contributing and affecting, you’ll know it’s worth it and you’ll have some fun.

4.You’ll start feeling great! Keep at it. Remember, you can stop anytime. No pressure.

Remember:

  • Organizations looking for volunteers are very lenient and kind regarding your schedule. Again, there’s really no pressure here. They may require a certain number of hours a week, but it’s usually always free for you to decide when to come in. Any help is good help.
  • Have some fun with it! Network and meet new people. You could make a lifetime friend or an important connection into your big life career! There are thousands of opportunities surrounding this activity so be an opportunist! Take advantage!
  • If you haven’t had a job, this is the perfect practice. Those in high school or even middle school could benefit greatly by learning responsibility and the value of time and generosity.
  • Know when to not volunteer.

Helpful Links
Search engines:
Hud.gov (Good place to start!)
VolunteerMatch (Also a very good place!)
Idealist.org
Volunteer.gov
Volunteers of America
1-800-Volunteer.org

A few organizations:
The Humane Society

Habitat for Humanity
American Red Cross
Rotary
CMT’s One Country
Peace Corps

Big Brothers Big Sisters

That’s it for this series! Thanks for sticking with  me, and I hope I’ve helped further you along in your volunteer search. It truly is a great experience. The feeling you get helping others in need is comparable to no other, I promise. Have a nice day!

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Make Your Mark on the World: Make sure you have what you need to volunteer

Hello, hello, my readers. Did you know that more unemployed are turning to volunteering in light of the United States’ poor economic health? You can see these articles here and here. I think it’s a great way to spend all that free time, and they’re adding to their resumes while searching for work!

This is the fourth post in my Make Your Mark series on how to start your volunteering journey with ease. Whew, I apologize for the delay, but it’s here! I’ve had a terrible headache today, but I’ll do my best.

The other three posts of the series focus on:

Volunteering is indeed a painless and easy process, but in order to communicate information between you and your prospective supervisor and make it an even easier process, you’ve gotta have some of the tools listed here

For virtual volunteering specifically… you will want some medium of primary communication (usually suggested by the organization) Internet access, a telephone or a cell phone are the most preferred ways. I’ve yet to see any volunteer jobs that require you communicate by snail mail or human messengers so I would stick to the former three!

You may also need a scanner or an image editing program in case you are emailed applications that must be signed. Some may do this by mail, but it seems a rarity these days.

For regular ol’ local volunteering… you’ll need items that match whatever position you’re working under! This is common sense though. If you’re helping with greenery or working around dirt, find some extra work clothes that you don’t really need, some gloves, tools, etc. On the other scale, if you’re working in an office, try to find some formal dress. You never know what career opportunities may come to you while volunteering!

You must have a means of transportation, but this seems silly to mention. Just like any regular job, it will be polite and recommended to come in on time. Most organizations are very, very lenient about the times you come in and the hours you clock so no pressure.

For volunteering in general… you might want an agenda or a calendar to remember your scheduled work days.

Documents that include personal information such as your shot records may be required, but not usually.

Make sure you keep a list of all dates and times you’ve worked and also where you’ve worked. This is just a good reference and reminder list you might need later for a resume or application.

For higher up opportunities, you may be asked for examples of past work relative to your position. Most entry level positions don’t mind if you don’t have skills. That’s what training is for! But if you’re applying to be the graphic designer of a booming website, they may want someone with a bit of skill.

Keep your interpersonal skills and perseverance polished and handy as well. The training processes for some jobs (mostly office jobs or jobs working with confidential information) are a bit tedious, but afterward, you will begin to feel the benefits of your generosity!

In the next and final post I will be sure to cover all the tiny cracks and crevices of information I can find when it comes to volunteering. I’ll include some small warnings (nothing to fret over!), some tips after you get the job, what to expect and more.

Thanks for reading and sticking with me! Hopefully this headache goes away so I can get back to some quality posts.

Make Your Mark on the World Series:

  1. Introduction: How to Start Volunteering Now!
  2. Beginning Your Search: Matching Your Interests
  3. Where to Find Them? Local or Virtual?
  4. Items You May Need << You’re here
  5. Other Information
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Make Your Mark on the World: Volunteering Locally or Virtually

I’m sitting here on a beautiful day listening to a little Yo La Tengo (“Today is the Day” is such a good writing song) writing my 11th post for this blog, my project I’ve been planning to start for 6 years. I knew today was going to be a good day. Things have been going generally well for a while!

This is the third post in the Make Your Mark series in which I’m explaining some easy ways to get started on your volunteer opportunity search. The first post was simply an introduction to volunteering. The second went more in-depth about matching opportunities to your interests.

Today I’ll be talking about where to find these opportunities. You’ve essentially two choices: local or virtual.

Virtual Opportunities

Did you know that you can do volunteer work from home? There are many virtual opportunities out there with no set location, which can be completed from home and/or via the internet. If you don’t have time to travel from one place or the other or want to volunteer from home for other reasons (children, work, etc.) volunteering virtually will be your best bet. You could be helping someone overseas with a project! Examples of volunteer work you can do from home are:

  • Designing marketing materials for an organization (pamphlets, fliers, and more)
  • Photography
  • Website designing
  • Grant writing
  • Virtual tutoring
  • Research

The special benefits to virtual volunteering include:

  • Working around your own schedule
  • Having your work exposed and known in different parts of the world
  • Opportunities for those who are disabled
  • Wider range of opportunities
  • All-around easy for those who may find volunteering difficult

For example, icouldbe.org allows volunteers to mentor underprivileged teens who select mentors that match their interests. You would communicate online and through the icouldbe website and aid them in activities such as writing a mission statement and autobiography, defining their top three priorities in life, etc. Volunteers would have to commit at least one hour a week. Painless, no? They also have neat features such as “mentor of the month”. You could get some neat recognition that way.

*These opportunities call for means of communication, which will be covered in the next post.

Local Opportunities

Most of the volunteer jobs you hear about take place in local areas. If you have time on your hands to commit a few hours a week towards an organization in your community or neighboring community, local volunteering opportunities are for you! Make sure you have means of transportation to these places before you sign up for them as well. Examples of local work include:

  • Building homes in your area
  • Cleaning local parks
  • Assisting in clothing drives and other drives
  • Setting up marathons and relays for fund raising
  • Office jobs
  • Tutors

The special benefits of local volunteering include:

  • Making new local friends
  • Gaining social skills
  • Becoming known within your community
  • Finding a new job in your area

When looking for local opportunities, I look through a few sites (including VolunteerMatch described below).  Go through your city’s website (or do a simple Google search for your city + “volunteer opportunities”) and look for businesses and organizations that post up volunteer opportunities. Some good businesses to search for locally are:

  • Colleges
  • Day care centers
  • Hospices
  • Senior Centers
  • Charities
  • Parks
  • Libraries

Some big organizations that branch out nationally (just search for your local chapter) include:

  • Rotary – the world’s first service club organization (they aid INTERACT clubs at highschools)
  • Habitat for Humanity – helping build local and afforadable houses
  • American Red Cross – aiding your communitiy in preparation for emergencies
  • Big Brother Big Sister – Become a “big brother/sister” to a child just to spend time with them and be someone they can look up to. Something I want to try very soon! This is their mission statement:

“…to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that have a  measurable impact on youth.”

VolunteerMatch has a search engine that allows you to search through virtual or local opportunities. You don’t have to sign up to search, but you do have to register to ask for more information about a position. It’s painless and easy, however, and helpful information about specific opportunities are emailed to you in a quick manner.

You could find more opportunities at your local Craigslist under “jobs” by clicking “nonprofit”, but you must be weary of these opportunities as these listings go through no screening process for legitimacy.

I’ll post an extensive list of links at the end of this series for you guys.

Make Your Mark on the World Series:

  1. Introduction: How to Start Volunteering Now!
  2. Beginning Your Search: Matching Your Interests
  3. Where to Find Them? Local or Virtual? << You’re here
  4. Items You May Need
  5. Other Information

I hope this has been of some help so far! If you have any questions or comments about specific volunteer opportunities and anything else, feel free to comment or email me.

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Saturday Sprinkles 3.14.2009

Just a few weekly interesting things you should glimpse at:

  • The Immersion Project – A film project that captures the faces of kids as they play violent video games. It’s just interesting.
  • Daily Motivation posts a small motivational message touching on thousands of topics in life every Monday through Saturday.
  • Being a young opportunist, I really liked this list of 70 Things to Do Before Having Children. Of course, most of these can be done with children, but I always liked the idea of spending time with my loved one before having children.
  • Lastly, I really liked this one. Cover art that has been reused in different novels. I actually didn’t know they could do that! I like seeing the differences in editing to make the cover individualistic.

Digg! 

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Climbing Our Brick Walls

We all slip up. Every once in a while, you’ll come across a kink in your behaviors that you’ll want to fix or at least tone down. Don’t worry; it’s very normal to have this. You may wake up one day and realize you know nothing about who you actually are. Nothing to fret about.

It happens in almost everyone’s teen years and sometimes even when they’re forty! Something unexpected may come along that shatters your world and changes what you’re comfortable with. Still, it’s all right. So if you come across a brick wall in your life, don’t lament. It’s climbable, I guarantee you.

There’s a subtle key to changing for the better:

Don’t just talk about how high that wall is. Don’t just talk about jumping on and getting over it. Show that you’re willing to scale it by taking some active steps toward your goal to the top. It doesn’t matter whether they’re small steps or big steps, just take them.

And if you slip up – take note of your mistake, come up with another strategy, and try again next time. That’s it.

You may go through absolute hell trying to get over, you may acquire some cuts and scrapes, and, if it’s high enough, you may even shed a few tears. It doesn’t matter. No matter the height, no matter the texture or color or severity of the wall; all that matters is your grip.

As Randy Pausch, professor of Carnegie Mellon University, once said,

“Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.”

What are your strategies and experiences in getting over your walls?

Digg!

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