Many will probably look and see that Christmas break is four weeks and two days long. The initial attitude students have when seeing that is, “Oh that means plenty of time to sleep and relax.” Sleeping and relaxing is important and enjoyable, but there are better ways to maximize your Christmas break. There are many things necessary for the Christmas season, and there can still be plenty of time to relax. Some of these activities are caroling, cheesy Christmas movie watching, gingerbread house making, ice skating, bazaar shopping, decorating, listening to Christmas music, and baking. This list is just some of the most important things one might do; the list may seem long, but these things can greatly improve your Christmas season. The best way to make the most of the Christmas season, is to begin celebrating right away. Right as Thanksgiving ends there is a noticeable change in the air. The crisp cold outside is no longer viewed as painful, but as a lovely reminder of what season it is. Almost all the leaves have left the trees and what remains are beautiful, haunting trees. Trees that remind us of death, but also assure us that there is hope and life soon to come. The only trees left are the lovely evergreens or, as I like to call them this time of year, Christmas trees. The day after Thanksgiving is known to many as Black Friday. In my family it is known as the day we go in our backyard and cut down a Christmas tree. Some people can’t go in their backyard to cut down a tree, but most can find a Christmas tree somewhere. Without your Christmas tree and decorations it is impossible to truly begin your Christmas season. I love to dedicate a whole day to this. If you have a cut-your-own tree business nearby, cutting down your own tree is the most magical experience. You can hunt for the perfect tree that is shaped just right for your home. If you can’t do that it is still almost as fun to buy a tree from a store. Once you have your tree inside your house and you are ready to get down to decorating, begin blasting your favorite Christmas music! Pull out decorations, some that are new and some that are SO old you have no idea when you got them. Just go crazy with them, and have everyone participate. There will be multiple styles of decorating portrayed on the tree and throughout the house, but this is the best part. The whole family is represented in these Christmas decorations. Take this time to sing out loud, dance, be creative, and spend quality time with your family. Go all out and decorate until you feel like you are about to drop. When you have finally created your masterpiece, sit back and relax. Have a warm drink, eat some cookies, and admire what you have created as a team. These decorations will be up in your home for almost a month. Having a pleasant, fun day putting them up will inspire good memories in all for the rest of the season every time they admire this creation.
November 24, 2014Back before college, there was always a table where all the cool kids sat at lunch. In some schools, that table and the right to sit there were a big deal. No one, uninvited, sat at the cool kids table because the people who sat there intimidated the people they didn’t know and welcomed those they shared similarities with. This intimidation factor also applies to any weight room. The weight room is a sort of “clubhouse.” If you walk into any gym, you might notice free weights in the corner, while other machines take over the floor area. Separate from where the treadmills and other cardio machines may be set up, the population is often sparse but entirely male dominant. If you hung up a “No Girls Allowed” sign, no difference may be had at some gyms and fitness centers. The weight room can pose as a scary place to venture as a female because, bluntly, it’s not normal and sometimes visually stated as unacceptable to be a girl lifting weights. People stare when something new enters the picture. When a female walks into the weight room, her defenses go up and her mental judgments swarm her mind with any pair of eyes she spots locked on her. When boys stare, girls can become extremely self-critical about anything they do. In some gyms, even the Wheeler weight room, there is a smaller space nearby that offers stretching mats, yoga materials, and a few meager weights. It’s almost as if females are expected to slack off or be unable to push themselves when it comes to athleticism. There’s an unspoken hint that suggests the heavy lifting should be left for the naturally stronger gender. This is a confidence issue as much as it stands as a fitness issue. Females feel unsettled when it comes to the weight room because of the weight of judgment of internal laughter, respect for a fit lady, or exclusion. Confidence is one of the best qualities anyone can carry with them. Numerous amounts of women aren’t confident or proud of the body they were given, yet can’t find the independence or strength to go make the change on their own. The shame of a body comes from society’s interpretation alone. One who is ashamed of their body has only accepted society’s theory of physicality. Breaking the stereotype is difficult and scary sometimes, but it’s worth it when it’s all making a mentally and physically stronger individual. There are pregnant women doing Cross-Fit courses and competitions. There are little girls born and raised in an athletic world. Others make a turning point and become fit by their own choice. Getting up, going to the gym, and sticking with the hard workouts are what changes you from the intimidated to the intimidation. The weight room doesn’t have to be a scary place and the ladies can be the cool kids.
November 18, 2014When I arrived at Hoover 105 at 5:15 p.m on October 21, for the Faculty Lecture, I did not expect a line of seemingly unmoving students. The Faculty Lecture Series has been a tradition at GFU since 1955. Each year, the university invites a professor or professors to speak on a given topic. This fall, the University asked Professor Brian Doak to speak about his book, Consider Leviathan: Nature and Theodicy in the Book of Job. I impatiently stamped my left foot (anxious habit) while attempting to figure out why the line wasn’t moving. After a few minutes, I noticed Paula Hampton, the fabulous administrator for the Biblical Studies Department, and asked her why there was a line. “This is the line for students who are signing in to get credit for coming to hear Professor Doak,” she said. I felt sad that some students were coming solely for credit in class instead of their own accord. However, knowing I no longer needed to stand in line, I entered the room from the other door and sat down in the first row. The room was filled with the scent of meatballs, cut vegetables, and scholars–who smell of dusty books and burnt coffee. When it was time for the lecture to begin, I turned to see the rest of the room—every seat was taken. After an introduction from President Baker (which unfortunately did not mention Professor Doak’s awesome bow-ties), Doak began by discussing the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal which prompted a bigger separation of science and humanities. Doak is a skillful storyteller. (If you take any of his classes, I suggest bringing a tape recorder; he is full of great one-liners and explanations.) An example of his ability to catch the audience’s attention is when he said the Book of Job contains the most “riproaringest argument in the Bible.” Who says that? Doak’s lecture was complex and thought-provoking, yet accessible and easily absorbed. I found my right hand cramping as I took copious notes as he explained what he found in the Book of Job with regards to a covenant nature narrative and theodicy. Doak suggested that, “Job could serve as an anthem for the disoriented world,” because “we need a battered Job to speak to our battered selves.” Anyone in the audience could really see how Doak’s passion for knowledge, understanding, and God were evident in his sharing. How wonderful for students to see a professor seeking to connect with students outside of a class. How awesome for a professor to facilitate a conversation about human suffering and how God replies to it. So why should you care about the Faculty Lecture or that Professor Doak wrote a book? Because each student should want to know what his or her professor seeks to discover about this world. A student should want to see that his or her professor has not become complacent in his or her field. Each student should seek to support a professor as he or she continues to pursue knowledge. A student should want to make sure a professor does not just lock him or herself up in an office in order to stay in the George Fox bubble and avoid the world. Some of the lectures in the past few years have had some very interesting topics. Last fall, Professor Ken Badley’s lecture was titled, “Miley Cyrus, the Google Algorithm and New Epistemology.” In 2009, four English professors led the Faculty Lecture—I am sad I wasn’t here to see that one. There is a deep history here at GFU—one which requires participation. So I would like to encourage you to attend the next Faculty Lecture in the spring in order to encourage the faculty and learn about their passions.
November 14, 2014There is an epidemic of apathy in our culture today. Apathy is widespread and evident in many areas, but one large area where this is seen is the church. In some churches, it is steadily becoming more popular to believe this: God loves us; all we need to do is accept His love; we can sin and it’s okay because He forgives us; we can live our lives however we want and never change. This is not a biblical concept, but something created by churches. God does forgive our sins, no matter how many, but that does not mean we should stop attempting to change. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, KJV) So God does forgive our sins, faithfully. But does mean we should sin? Some Christians take verses like this to mean that they can sin, and live however they like, and just ask God to forgive them afterwards. God will forgive you, but this is not the attitude we are meant to have. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” (Romans 6:1, KJV) Just because we have grace does not mean that we may continue in sin. That is taking advantage of grace. We will make mistakes now and again, but to purposefully sin, planning to ask for forgiveness later, is not acceptable and is a slap in the face to God. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:5,6, KJV) God saved us so that we may grow to be Christ-like, and learn to live sinless, loving lives. This mindset, that we can sin and live any way we’d like to, is an excuse for apathy. It makes it so that people can be “saved,” but still live the same way they used to. They don’t have to make any change; the only change is that now they believe they can go to Heaven when they die. This is apathetic and evidence of a culture that encourages a lack of change. Change is good and necessary; growth is good and necessary. Otherwise, how would will deal with this problem of apathy?
November 14, 2014There are only four weeks left before finals. I don’t know about you, but I am freaking out just a little. Okay, maybe a lot! I am a junior so I should have “stress management” down by now, right? I shouldn’t still battle with procrastination, but I do. I have friends who work better under pressure. Their ability to juggle papers, extracurricular activities, and studying boggles my mind. Too often, I attempt to mimic them and fall horribly on my face. I rest in the insanity of hope that someday, I too will be able to juggle it all. Why do we do this to ourselves? We break our backs trying to be like those we admire. I’ve heard the saying, “We want what we can’t have.” But is that true? I have learned I can manage my stress, if I ask for help. Therein lies the rub. Asking for help can be really hard. There are many feelings that rush to drown us as we think about asking for help: shame, self-loathing, weakness, anxiety, and fear. Many students try to rationalize why they can’t ask someone for help. “The librarian is too busy.” “My professor probably has heard too many excuses and won’t be open to helping me.” “I am going to try and take this exam like other students. My disability won’t come into play.” “I am struggling with Greek. I am sure others are too and they probably couldn’t help me anyway.” Other students might make the following assumptions: Assumption 1: Having someone help you means you are unable to exhibit control of your life. Assumption 2: Asking for help shows how weak you are. The problem with these “reasons” and “assumptions” resides in the simple fact that most people want to help and they don’t assume you are an uncontrollable weakling. Professors want us to succeed and grow. Friends want to see us happy. Like most people, I sometimes struggle in asking for help. My mind doesn’t work like most. I have bipolar—it does not have me. However, there are days when I fight to pull a cohesive sentence out of the racing images, words, and scattered thoughts that fly through my mind. Sometimes when the sun shines so bright I have no need for help: my manic highs make me feel indestructible. Sometimes the grey dulls my skills and I feel incapable of functioning. In between those drastic moments, I try to be like everyone else and, at times, ignore the need for help. While taking my first exam of this semester, for example, I knew there was an essay part of the test. I refused to ask my professor for extra time to do the essay because I wanted to be like other students. However, I struggled to put thoughts together in a short amount of time—I needed extra time in order to construct a thesis statement and supportive claims. Not asking for help before the test resulted in my receiving an 80%, when I should have scored higher. My professor said I had a great thesis but provided no support—this is because I came up with the thesis at the end of the class and had no time to fix what I wrote. I take ownership of my grade, because I tried to be someone I am not. This doesn’t make me less than any other person, but what it does is present an opportunity to ask for help. Ironically, I had just encouraged another student to ask her professors for help. Why can’t we take our own advice? I think we avoid our own advice because at times we feel emotionally mature enough to believe we would never make a bad decision. There is a small part of us that sees ourselves as wise sages; unfortunately, even wise people fall on their faces. Sheena Iyengar said, “Life hands us a lot of hard choices and other people can help us more than we might realize. We often think we should make important decisions using just our own internal resources. What are the pros and cons? What does my gut tell me? But often we have friends and family who know us in ways we don’t know ourselves.” Receiving help and encouragement from others only aids us in success. I am writing three papers, one sermon, one sermon series, preparing three presentations, and studying for two exams in the next three weeks. I also work on campus. So I have begun to ask for help. I need people to keep me accountable for my time. I need extra time for in-class essays. I need extra help with making sure my papers make sense and cease to have grammatical errors. I also need God to keep me balanced. Some might wonder, “Why ask Heather for assistance if she also struggles at times to ask for help?” My reply is simple. God has given me a servant’s heart to encourage others to find their voice. Helping others actually sharpens my mind and aids in stress management. Facilitating plans of execution and ways to accomplish goals is something I excel at. But like everyone else, I am human, and therefore wrestle with things. Any stumble on my part does not hinder my ability to aid others with advice and training. I want to be open about my battles, because I know others are battling their own issues. We may not approach things the same way, but we all look to others for guidance and honesty. I know, as students, most of you are looking at your syllabi and saying, “Holy crap, I have a lot to do!” Asking for help, especially in the last four weeks, is important. I want to encourage you not to wait for it to rain down from above. Take a step out of your comfort zone and ask for help now. Schedule an appointment with the ARC, your professor, your RA, your advisor, or your friend. Ask God for guidance—He is waiting to help you. Don’t try to be like someone else! You are special and have much to contribute. Reach out if you need to. Reward yourself for seeking help. Go grab some Crazy Sushi in Sherwood or go see a movie. Don’t let shame or fear keep you from asking someone to help you. “Learned helplessness is the giving-up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
November 11, 2014The television flips to a commercial and an athlete, dripping sweat takes the screen. A narrator, one with a deep and motivational voice, begins to speak, introducing the power of sweat, what power lies behind it, and where the power to keep going comes from: Gatorade. The 2014 “Sweat it. Get it.” commercial by the well-known sports drink company promotes replenishing of fluids and electrolytes lost in the production of sweat. According to Fitday, Gatorade is highly recommended for athletes who partake in extreme level activities and sports. Enhancements are mixed in the beverage, providing energy for tired athletes through potassium, sodium, and a balanced level of carbohydrates. Other sports drinks, such as Powerade, offer the same enhancements, but with more vitamins than the original Gatorade formula. Either way, both are flavored and designed to keep you drinking more, especially after extreme physical activities. Water is, of course, another suggested fluid source. Hydration is key and water keeps that need balanced. When 60% of your body is made up of water, it’s something you should pay attention to. Water takes care of your body, protects your spine, and delivers oxygen to your heart (and everywhere else). Depending on how long and strenuous your workout is, stick to water if you’re doing a basic, routine workout that lasts up to two hours. After that point, a replenishing drink might be reasonable to keep your body going. Yet, depending on what you’re hoping to achieve with your time at the gym, Gatorade could be a negative addition. According to Live Strong, in one 20 ounce Gatorade there are 34 grams of sugar. Grams make that seem small, so convert that to about seven teaspoons. If you’re there to work off the buildup of sugars, Gatorade won’t be your best bet. Gatorade was intended for the athletically inclined, meant to improve and enhance the truly dedicated. We have to consider that, although Gatorade has made a lasting statement past the world of sports and fitness, people were able to survive athletic events with water. We can still do that today. Put the sports drinks down, and pick up some H₂O.
November 10, 2014I am from the land where sun is always shining, where warm is taken to the next degree. Fairfield, Calif.: that used to be the place for me. I was born and raised in California. This upbringing means that everything I am about to say is subjective, but I think sometimes that subjectivity isn’t a bad thing. This is an opinions article after all. Back to my Northern California roots. There are certain things that you just don’t get to experience in the Bay area, things I look forward to so much after the hundred and ten degree summers. Upon returning to Oregon for school, I realized how important these things are to me, and how people often do not take the time to enjoy the great things that they have. The list is as follow: Oregon is so green. My house is all dead hills that some like to pass as “golden,” but they aren’t. Golden implies pretty. Pretty is Oregon. There is no way to look at the nature of Oregon and not be moved by the trees that yell their beauty to the blue sky they share the horizon with, the water that whispers its beauty along the creek between rocks and banks of grass. Rain! It is the most obvious reason everything is so green, though there are many other qualities about rain that make it easy to love. Some might call me crazy, but there is nothing better than standing outside, head upturned toward the sky, letting raindrops fall gently on your face. For me, each little drop isn’t a sign of coldness or gloom; it is a sign of growth and of hope for life to come. Rain is also a really great excuse for a cup of hot chocolate. Another great thing about Oregon is that the weather is always perfect for cute scarves and boots. (Sorry guys, I guess you will have to find a different positive.) Speaking of cute boots, one of the greatest changes from California is that many people have traded their flip-flops in for classy shoes. There is something about looking at these that screams hipster and makes me believe that there is hope for humans because not everyone is stuck in a just-gonna-throw-on-my-last-clean-tee-shirt world. Oregon also has all the coffee. For me, that is all that matters. Yes California has coffee, but growing up in my town, the choice was Starbucks or Peet’s. While commercial coffee has its perks, there is just something about being able to walk into a cozy coffee shop to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee that the entire rest of the world isn’t drinking. Another thing unique to Oregon that everyone must be blessed by is delicious marionberry syrup. I love the agriculture in California, but marionberries do not grow there. What goes better with that delicious morning cup of coffee than a stack of buttermilk pancakes drowned in marionberry syrup? Nothing. My final, and favorite, aspect of Oregon is being able to see the stars. When there aren’t clouds, the stars are so numerous and so clear that looking at their vastness reminds me that the world is big, that God is big. And in the crazy weeks of stress and worry, that realization is enough to keep me grounded. I don’t claim that this list is exhaustive or applicable to everyone. I don’t claim that I speak for all of Northern California through my opinions. I don’t claim that other places in the world can’t provide these awesome things. None of these are the point. The point is, whether you find yourself in Fairfield, Calif. or in Newberg, Ore., take the time to discover what little things bring you joy. Hold on to those joys. Let them fill your day with happiness and laughter and make the most of the place you are in.
November 8, 2014One of the things that made me most sad about leaving for college was that I wouldn’t be able to cook anymore. I made breakfast and dinner almost every day for family back home and was afraid I would no longer be able to cook. For about a month I was without my beloved cooking and was never quite sure what to do with my life. Then I met a girl named Sarah Baker who was experiencing the same dilemma. After complaining about the lack of cooking for quite a while we let our spontaneous side show and ran out to buy ingredients for spaghetti and meatballs. Since then we have cooked many other things, and enjoyed every minute of it. Some people don’t believe us, that it’s not that hard to do and it’s a fun stress-relieving hobby that results in yummy things to eat! Sarah Baker, a resident of Pennington Hall and fellow cook, said, “It definitely is a good stress-reliever and it was a way to make friends, by offering food to people. I know that sounds funny, but it’s true.” People ask how we find the pots or pans to cook with or how we get all the ingredients. We had those same fears, but once we decided to do it, it was a lot easier than we thought it would be. Normally various people combined will have a plethora of pots and pans and other cooking utensils. The average person will be perfectly fine with you borrowing their stuff as long as you share your goodies afterwards. Also, there are ways to avoid needing certain types of utensils if you think like a college student. One example is when we once used a teapot to cook noodles in because we didn’t have a big enough pot, and it worked out great. If you find recipes that don’t require a large variety of ingredients it can usually be pretty cheap to buy all the ingredients once everyone splits the cost. So go out there buy your ingredients and just do it! I’m sure there will be no regrets, only stomachs full of good food. Have fun with it, make friends, and try new things!
November 6, 2014It’s here! The long awaited second issue of the Crescent is finally here! Of course, it’s been out a week, but people seem to still be picking them up. Occasionally someone comes up to me and says something along the lines of how this issue is so much better because he or she only found one typo. I cringe slightly at the backhanded compliment and parry with a wounded thank-you. At least it’s something. Sometimes I see the mistakes and wish I could hop into a time traveling DeLorean or police box and fix the issues before they were printed. But I can’t change the past and the issue looks great. And for now, that’s good enough. We will continue to strive for excellence; otherwise, we would be stewing in mediocrity and that is unacceptable. Most likely, readers will probably find other things to take offense at. It seems to happen every issue. A great example of this actually comes from Issue 1. The cover story for the first issue was about how much the new stadium cost, where money came from, and input on it from individuals employed by George Fox University involved in the project and students. Pretty innocuous stuff, but important information to know. However, the GFU administration took offense to it. Why? The headline. The notorious headline This headline may seem a little extreme to some, but it is a fair question. The purpose of the article itself is to give readers the facts and views on the whole situation in order for them to make their own decisions. This is relevant information that we wanted students to know and this headline is (most likely) what got them to read the article. I’m not even sure if the administration actually read the article. In fact, I don’t even know exactly who specifically had the problem or made the complaint. Why? Because I only heard about it long after the fact. The administration saw fit to contact Josiah Nuzum, the ASC vice president of Marketing and Communications, but not the editors of the Crescent. From what I’ve heard, VP Nuzum came up to bat for us and I appreciate it. But I want to know one thing: Why didn’t administration contact either of the editors-in-chief? I have a few theories about this. First, I’m almost certain that the administration does not like the Crescent. Why would they? They are trying to create a flawless image of GFU to draw in students and donors. It’s not hard to view what the paper is doing as being antagonistic to this goal. One day, when I was in the Crescent office, a representative from GFU’s marketing department knocked on the door. He told me he had come to see if we were going to do any continuing reporting of the cover story from our April 23 issue (seen below) and to offer assistance with ideas. What that meant to me: The administration didn’t want us reporting on this subject anymore and that they wanted to try and get us to focus on things they wanted to focus on. I was hesitant to accept, to say the least. Another theory I have is that the administration does not actually respect the students as adults. When an adult has a problem with something that another adult does, the former approaches the latter and they enter a dialogue. When an adult has a problem with something a child does, the former approaches the latter’s parent(s) and they talk. The GFU administration chose to go with the latter approach. I’m not saying Nuzum should have been circumvented in the process, I just think that the editors-in-chief should have been included in the meeting. I’m an adult and I expect to be treated as such. I want to make it clear that the stories that the Crescent runs are not intended to undermine the administration at GFU. That’s not what journalism is about. What the Crescent is about is telling the true stories that affect the students. Our tagline and mission is to be the voice of the students and we strive to be so every day. Sometimes that comes into conflict with what the administration wants. That’s okay. In fact, it’s great. It shows the GFU is helping students to learn to think for themselves, to truly evaluate issues as they arise. If anyone has a problem with the Crescent, I encourage him or her to let us know. Send us your concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will address them. We’re not monsters out to destroy everything; we just ask for the courtesy knowing what the perceived problems are. Then, we can get past bitter feelings and focus on our respective jobs.
November 5, 2014“How are you today?” “Good. How are you?” “I’m good.” We all walk away from these conversations with a general sense of a formality that vaguely resembles happiness, but do these repetitive, rehearsed phrases really do us any good? At George Fox we pride ourselves in the idea of “being known.” We expect a deepness and connection with others that surpasses the typical “how are you” conversation. We all long for the gift of community and relationship, but we often forget that gifts aren’t just given to someone completely ready to be used—they require unwrapping. In the same sense, being known is not just something that is given openly and without effort. We are willing to accept the gift, but we must also be willing to meet our community halfway and try to be knowing. This is an active process, one that means we can’t expect to experience all of the opportunities George Fox offers us if we lock ourselves away in a cave to perpetually watch “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix. George Fox stays true the idea of being known. They promote this logo by providing us so many possibilities in terms of events, groups, classes. It is up to us to turn those possibilities into our realities. Take the time at the beginning of the semester to realize that being known calls for you to be knowing; be knowing what happens on campus; be knowing possible clubs that interest you; be knowing when James projects leaves on Saturday mornings if you want to serve. Being known is two way process that includes provision from the school, but also participation from the student body. We so often hear that “you get out of college what you put into it.” This could not be more true. So be brave enough to join the worship band. Be confident enough to audition for the school’s play. Experience the community and peace of Shalom. Try out for the baseball team. Dress up for the 90’s dance. Pick your teacher’s brain during his/her office hours. Find what it is that you are passionate about, and pursue it. Be known. Be knowing.
November 3, 2014Fall begins. TV shows are starting to air, while schoolwork and classes are starting to get serious. Students on average said they spent 3.3 hours on this schoolwork, not including classes, and 3.9 on pastimes. But when do these pastimes become a waste of time? Is it wrong to enjoy watching TV, playing video games, reading, playing card games, hanging out with friends, or any other type of pastime? No, as long as they aren’t becoming a waste of time. So then we must determine, when do these pastimes become a waste of time? One way to know is if a pastime is detrimental to your schoolwork. There is a reason we pay to come to George Fox University, and that was to learn, not to watch TV or play video games or hang out with friends. GFU says students are expected to spend two hours outside of class on homework for every hour they spend in class. If the average student takes about 16 credits, then that means they should be spending about 32 hours a week or 4.5 hours a day on homework. Of course these are loose guidelines; some more difficult classes require more time, other easier ones require less time. Overall, it is important to make sure the end products of school are the best that can be achieved and adequate time is spent on them. This is a hard to discipline to master. It takes a lot of commitment and planning, but it is possible. Now, doing well in school alone is not enough to know that pastimes are not a waste of time. Many of these pastimes are not bad. Rather, they are enjoyable and do not hurt us in any way. But many of them do not improve us as people, or make a contribution to the world. Some people don’t realize this when they feel down or even depressed, but many times this can be a sign of not growing or making any important contributions to the world. Many times we feel depressed when our pastimes have become a waste of time, but do not realize this is the cause. Instead, we spend even more time on our pastimes to “make us feel better”. Making a contribution to the world does not have to mean curing cancer, winning the Nobel prize, or finding a new sustainable energy. A contribution can be something simple, anything that adds to what’s already in the world. You can write, build, draw, paint, play music, cook, as long as you’re creating something – doing something. A contribution to the world can even be adding a little more kindness than was there before. Help at a soup kitchen, visit the elderly or sick, or even the cliché “helping an old lady cross the street” will do. Other options to grow as a person or improve oneself are reading, learning about things you love when it’s not required; there are also things like at least a healthy amount of exercise, meditation, and inner reflection. If there is a healthy balance of schoolwork, pastimes, growth as a person, and contributions made to the world, you won’t find yourself wasting time. You also should find that you’ll be happier, more satisfied, and more content than before.