Author Archives: Habits for Contentment

Week 7 – Redesign, Revamp, Revisit

I can not believe it is halfway through the semester! A semester of online school has been a blur, but it does have it’s benefits.

This weeks prompt was to take feedback from our latest peer review and apply some new design features to our blog! Kikyo from One Dish at a Time wrote a great peer review on my website, check it out here!

One thing I loved about her website was how she would bold sentences to communicate emphasis and purpose. She suggested that I try this on some of my blog posts as well. I have been slowly trying to incorporate more quotes into my writing, and to fiddle with font size.

In my most recent blog post, I tried to create feeling by using various font sizes and bold sections. I think this was very effective! Thanks Kikyo for the suggestion, I will continue to use this technique in my future blog posts!

Some thoughts on an online semester:

  1. Not commuting has been so wonderful! There are not many reliable busses where I live, so I would have to drive into school a lot, but with online school I am saving so much in gas money – Woohoo!
  2. Distractions are many. I find that I have a much harder time paying attention in lectures and zoom calls because there is no one around to hold me accountable. I have to be very determined at the beginning of my day to stay focused in a lecture.
  3. Community is hard. I really miss having classmates and small conversations on the bus or between classes. I am so thankful for the friends I have, but I miss mingling with strangers.
  4. Flexible scheduling! University is quite flexible as is, but with online school – homework and lecture participation can be even more flexible.

6 weeks of blogging left, here we go!

Breathing Out Generosity

Any other university students out there?

This week was filled with stress for me. Between midterms, papers, and a covid scare, I was pretty much a mess. Everything seemed to be piling up at once, and while I thought I was getting better at maintaining a balance between school and life, I quickly found this weekend that I still have much to learn.

I was not handling things well. But then my sister bought me a coffee.

This sounds like a small gesture, and maybe your family treats you all the time. But at this moment, a coffee was exactly what I needed.

A coffee reminded me that mornings are okay, and that today, I could accomplish the small tasks ahead.

A coffee reminded me of how my sister cares for me. She extended her small budget and used her limited time to drive out and buy coffee. On a student budget, that’s huge.

A coffee reminded me that I am valuable and worthy of care.

One small act of generosity hugely impacted my day and started to lift me out of a funk I had happily sat myself into.

How have you experienced generosity in your life? This is just one example, but I have had many other situations where a small gift or gesture has been exactly what I needed.

Gratitude and Generosity

I’ve written a lot about being thankful in this blog, but how does this relate to generosity?

Gratitude is like breathing in – letting ourselves be touched by the goodness in others and in our world. Generosity is like breathing out – sensing our mutual belonging and offering our care.

Tara Brach

Tara Brach writes beautifully how gratitude is like breathing in. It is recognizing and verbalizing the good things around us and allowing it to impact our perspective. Then Generosity is like breathing out. It is the outpouring of a thankful heart.

Only 59 days until Christmas! (From the date of this post 😊 ) But why not start practicing generosity early? I would encourage you this week to pick one friend you’ve been thankful for, or someone who you think could use a pick-me-up, and send them a small gift.

This could be anything, from a handwritten note, to a coffee, or maybe some McDonald’s chicken nuggets. Breathe in the goodness of Fall and the people around you, and breathe out a kind act of generosity.

Week 6: Is Anyone Out There?

This week’s process post is about addressing our audience. I honestly hadn’t really thought about who I was writing to until this past lecture. I was more concerned with what to write and how to write it than to whom It was being written.

One of this week’s readings was about publics and counter publics, and a few of the points that stood out to me were that publics are a relationship among strangers, constituted through attention, and temporary. Find the full article here.

As I have been writing my blog posts, I have been writing to an imaginary audience of ‘strangers’ and assuming that they’ll be interested in what I have to say. However, as I continue to curate my posts and create an artistic voice, I need to be aware of the strangers that I am trying to reach. Ideally, I would love for my blog to create a community of vulnerability, where people are able to read about my struggles while feeling open and willing to share about their own.

Being vulnerable is difficult, but in a temporary and sometimes anonymous space, I hope that this blog could facilitate openness.

Another reading this week was on our un-digitalized past. It spoke about how many people are unwilling to sort through books or written literature to find information because seemingly everything we need can be found through a quick google search. The full article is linked here.

In many ways the digital world is reprogramming human society to be locked in the present gazing towards the future while our past falls into the memory hole behind us.

Kalev Leetaru

The internet is amazing and presents so many new opportunities of communication and information sharing. However, this instant access to new media may be decreasing our appetite for the old.

In myself I have noticed a decreasing attention span as I spend more time consuming online media that I can readily digest or switch to something new if the article is not quite to my liking.

This week I think I will take some time to sit with a good book and talk to my grandma.

Peer Review: One Dish at a Time

This blog is a collection of stories and experiences from Kikyo and her family’s restaurant business. Kikyo’s writing is heartfelt and warm as she outlines her father’s culinary journey and how covid has impacted them in the past months. This blog beautifully shows Kikyo’s love for family, food, and meeting customers!

Check out One Dish at a Time here!

These small moments where individuals go out of their way to support us means a lot and have a bigger impact that they realize. I love these encounters and connections I am able to make with people and is one of the reasons to what motivates me to not dread long work days.

Kikyo Chan

Theme and Customizations

One Dish as a Time has a clean, organized theme that highlights each blog post, and has a clear and inviting header at the top of the page. The menu at the top of the page is well organized and easy to navigate. The ‘About Me’ section has pictures that provide a warm greeting to the blog and invite you into some of Kikyo’s hobbies. Overall the flow is clear and easy to navigate!

Typography

One of my favourite parts about this blog is the font chosen for the website title! It has a handwritten vibe which lends itself to the warmth and familiarity that is presented through Kikyo’s blog posts. It is offset by a sans serif font underneath that gives the header a fun and interesting contrast. The blog posts follow a similar format of having a bold, serif font as a title, with a clear, sans serif font chosen for the body. This draws the reader in by presenting a bold title, but then presents the work in a clear and easy-to-read format.

Social Media Integration

The socials tab on this blog links to Kikyo’s family restaurant social media feeds. Each restaurant has a well curated feed that shows delicious and unique food! Linking to the restaurants is a great idea because it gives the reader some context as they read about Kikyo’s experiences working in and around these restaurants.

There are also two personal social media feeds linked on the side bar of Kikyo’s blog. This appears on every page of the blog, and is a great way of getting readers connected with Kikyo on a more personal level. This will draw readers in to the story as they learn more about who Kikyo is as a person!


Design Thoughts

One thing that I think could be really powerful for One Dish as a Time is creating a static ‘home’ page for readers when they first visit the blog. Currently, the home page links to all the blog posts which is great for accessibility, but it could leave the reader feeling confused and not knowing where to start. Creating a ’welcome’ page would be a great way to grab the attention of readers and let them know about the great stories they can find within!

Another fun idea could be to add a fun graphic in the header of your website. This could be a graphic of your favourite food dish, or a specialty of your family restaurants! This would add a pop of colour and instantly give readers a taste (pun intended) of what your blog has to offer!

Painting like Bob Ross

I used to get sick all the time in high school, and while I hated the feeling – I loved the time spent at home because it meant time spent watching The Art of Chill With Bob Ross.

Bob Ross is the loveable persona from the television series called the Joy of Painting. He was characterized by his permed afro, denim shirts and soothing voice that brought viewers into an intimate, one-on-one painting lesson.

I aspire to create tranquility, a peaceful atmosphere to take people away from their everyday problems and frustrations.

Bob Ross

Throughout his shows, the thing that stood out more than his painting expertise or technical skill was his peaceable attitude towards life. Ross took painting slowly, and with joy. He specialized in painting tranquil landscapes and calm scenes.

Anything we don’t like, we’ll turn it into a happy little tree or something; we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.

Bob Ross

As Bob was painting, he would take chances on adding new trees or scenery to his work. He wouldn’t allow fear to stop him from trying something new – and if it didn’t work out the way he had planned, he simply called it a happy accident.

I so often have days when I lose control and something doesn’t go as I had planned. I am so quick to get irritable and write the whole day off because of one small inconvenience.

What if instead of this, we saw these moments as happy little accidents and took the opportunity to make a happy little tree out of a flaw in our day.

There is joy within every day, and peace within the storm. Sometimes it just takes perspective to turn that mistaken drawing into a beautiful painting.

5 Reasons to Try Running

Anybody else love running?

I am by no means a runner, but I love to run. I love to be outdoors for any reason possible, and to get some physical activity in with that as well is just a bonus!

But is running actually good for you? Here are 5 quick reasons for you to love running.

1. You can start anytime!

Today! Right now! Grab some shoes and maybe a hat and get started! No need for fancy equipment or a club membership, running can start whenever you’re feeling up for it.

2. You can run anywhere!

Are you in the suburbs? In the city? Are you in between work or have an evening off? Running can be done anywhere and within almost any time period!

3. Running helps you live longer

There have been many studies regarding the health benefits of running. Running has been proven to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, and one study by PubMed found that runners live about 3 years longer than non-runners. Running can lead you to a longer, happier life.

4. Running as Meditation

With so much influence from social media everywhere you are, it can do wonders for your soul to take a moment and unplug. Running is a great way to step away from technology, stress, school, or whatever your struggling with and just focus on one step after another. This can be a great time to stop, take a breath, and refocus.

5. Runners high is real!

retrieved from: https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20851505/how-to-achieve-a-runners-high/

Running has some serious mood boosting effects. During intense physical exercise, your body releases endorphins in your brain which create a deep euphoric experience. This is often called runner’s high and is a serious benefit of going for a run.

For more convincing on why running is awesome, check out this post by Share.com that lists 13 ways running can lead to better living.

So what do you think? Take some time this week to challenge yourself and go for a run, however short or however long. You could be taking (literal) steps towards a happier and healthier life 😊

Week 5 – Design, Design, Experiment.

This week we learned about website design. It was encouraging to see some of my peers websites and how they have been creative in establishing their vision. I loved the websites that had lots of white space and strong fonts.

I took some time to re-evaluate my website and found that I was using too much colour and my blog was feeling cluttered. There were elements that I enjoyed about the theme I was using, but overall I think it gave my website a slightly chaotic vibe which was very different from creating ‘Habits for Contentment’.

One of my favourite blogs is Andi Anne. She writes about nutrition, health, and messy stories from motherhood. I love this website because of its neutral tonal pallet and clean organization. It creates a sense of order in an occasionally chaotic cyberspace.

I especially love her about page, and how it flows from an introduction, to her philosophy, then to some of her best blog posts to get you started. It has a very well-defined flow and it beautifully draws the reader in to checking out more content.

Another thing this website does really well is linking to additional content. Andi has written a cooking E-book that is available on the page, and she also has links to podcasts and courses. This is a great way of synthesizing multiple media forms and having them all accessible through her website

And in every medium, useful ideas and experiments are eroding the old boundaries between industries and fields and creating vigorous hybrids designed for new climates.

Erin Kissane

I loved this quote from the, ‘Contents may have Shifted’ reading. It describes how exploring different mediums creates new avenues for art and expression, and I think that’s one of the beautiful things about blogging. It allows you to experiment with various mediums and artforms while portraying one singular message.

This week I will continue to hone in on some various design aspects to try and make the central theme of contentment shine through on my blog.

Cheers to another week of writing!

Twitter and the Presidential Election

Twitter is theoretically a social media platform where everyone is welcome, and everyone is heard. Anyone can set up an account and start creating their own personal cyberspace. Twitter has largely become a modern public square where users can share any view or belief as long as it is less than 140 characters. This has played a dramatic role in modern politics and public debate and has been especially used by President Donald Trump. President Trump uses Twitter as his prominent method of communication, and he has posted more than 11,000 tweets (Mcintire & Confessore, 2019). Twitter has many democratic functions such as allowing anyone to create an account, tweet, or retweet content that they deem to be relevant. These functions have led politicians to believe that the views expressed on Twitter are representative of the general population; however, the twitter population is not representative of the American public (Wojcik & Hughes, 2020). This paper will argue that Twitter has become a false representation of democracy because of the lack of representation of the American public among frequent tweeters, the creation of echo chambers within political discussions, and the presence of widespread misinformation.

            Twitter is not a democratic sphere because it is not representative of the American public. Democracy is a style of government that gives political control to the people by having a direct voice or an elected representative (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). Twitter would be a democratic sphere if the voices and views shared were equally representative of people from every geographic and socioeconomical realm, but a study by Pew Research shows that, “Twitter users are younger, more likely to identify as Democrats, more highly educated and have higher incomes than U.S. adults overall” (Wojcik & Hughes, 2020). This is only representing a small proportion of the U.S. population and is neglecting populations that are less educated, older, or have lower income levels. Politicians may lose sight of the actual views of their political ridings if they are too consumed with the views expressed on Twitter. Further, The Atlantic writes that many Twitter users engaged in politics are self-reported extremists that contribute to creating controversy among politicians (Mounk, 2019). These extremists bring attention to political debates they are invested in while taking attention away from other important matters. Mounk concludes that Twitter has failed to connect America’s elite to the ordinary people and has instead, “Amplified the beliefs of a small band of hyper-political partisans” (2019). Twitter is not a democratic sphere because it does not accurately represent views from the general American public.

            Twitter discourages open discussion by creating ‘echo chambers’ where users are prone to interact with only those who have similar opinions to their own. Constructive discussion operates as having two varying opinions being reviewed by both parties, and then a conclusion is reached with some level of compromise. Echo chambers operate differently by magnifying the current political views of users and only showing users tweets or retweets that are like their current beliefs (Yiu, 2020). Democracy was created to encourage political discussion and have opinions and beliefs represented from all people, but Twitter tends to polarize belief systems and create further division among belief groups (Yiu, 2020). C. Nguyen, a professor of philosophy, writes that, “Echo chambers isolate their members, not by cutting off their lines of communication to the world, but by changing whom they trust” (2019). This means that as Twitter users engage in political discussion, they become entangled in tweets and media that agree with their views and they become less trusting of anyone who has a different opinion. Twitter creates a lack of democracy by creating distrust and limiting the range of opinions and media that are exposed to users.

            Twitter is not a credible democratic sphere because of its tendency to magnify false news and misinformation. An intensive study by a group of researchers at MIT found that fake news and falsehoods were far more likely to spread than the truth (Vosoughi, Roy, & Aral, 2018). Falsehoods were 70% more likely to be retweeted than accurate news, and researchers wrote that false rumours would, “Reach more people, penetrate deeper into social networks, and spread much faster than accurate stories” (Vosoughi, Roy, & Aral, 2018). This creates conflict because if users are taking to Twitter as their source of news, they are far more likely to get something false than the truth. Twitter is addressing this for the upcoming presidential election by tightening their rules regarding retweets, monitoring pre-emptive victory claims, and banning political ads (BBC News, 2020). These actions have good intentions regarding the spread of false content; however, it does not address the fact that Twitter users gravitate towards fake news. Democracy was developed by the people to find the truth of what is best for the people, but Twitter is too good at captivating people with stories of fake news.

            Twitter is not a democratic social media platform because of its false representation of the American public, its creation of polarizing echo chambers, and its tendency to share fake news. The prevalence of Twitter in modern politics has enabled politicians and officials to be more accountable and accessible to voters; however, it has also allowed politicians to access data sets of analytics on potential voters to cater campaign marketing directly at their audience (Murse, 2019). This creates the potential to target Twitter users with political marketing and propaganda that is suited to their interests and may have influence on their voting decisions. Social media and the internet have allowed for the fast spread of news and ideas, but if modern politicians rely on Twitter for their representation of public opinion, they will fail to respond to the actual views of the people, they will obsess over fake news and political scandals, and they may end up forfeiting election (Mounk, 2019).

Works Cited

BBC News. (2020, October 09). US election: Twitter tightens rules on retweets and victory claims. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54485697

Mcintire, M., & Confessore, N. (2019, November 02). Trump’s Twitter Presidency: 9 Key Takeaways. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/02/us/trump-twitter-takeaways.html

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Democracy. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy

Mounk, Y. (2019, May 05). The Problem Isn’t Twitter. It’s That You Care About Twitter. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/political-leaders-should-stop-caring-about-twitter/588004/

Murse, T. (2019, August 29). Social Media in Politics – Twitter and Facebook as Campaigns Tools. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-social-media-has-changed-politics-3367534

Nguyen, C. T. (2019, October 31). The problem of living inside echo chambers. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://theconversation.com/the-problem-of-living-inside-echo-chambers-110486

Vosoughi, S., Roy, D., & Aral, S. (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science, 359(6380), 1146-1151. doi:10.1126/science.aap9559

Wojcik, S., & Hughes, A. (2020, May 30). How Twitter Users Compare to the General Public. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/04/24/sizing-up-twitter-users/

Yiu, Y. (2020, March 18). Visualizing Twitter Echo Chambers. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.insidescience.org/news/visualizing-twitter-echo-chambers

Coffee, Friendship, and Loneliness.

Lets talk about loneliness.

One of the hardest things about living in a global pandemic is the importance of stopping the spread of germs which directly translates into seeing less people. This means less events, less family gatherings, less stranger interactions and less people.

How has this affected our loneliness? In my life, I immediately noticed the effects of having weekly events cancelled, and more recently have been noticing the effects of missing small interactions with people on the bus or people at the grocery store.

In these times of global sickness and sometimes distrust, it is even more important to have people around you that you can call when you are feeling the most down. In British Columbia where I live, we are allowed to have a small bubble of people we interact with – Lets use this! Have a friend over for coffee or go for a rainy walk.

Be intentional about togetherness.

Step To Health wrote an excellent article about the mental health benefits of having coffee with a friend. They write about how having a great conversation with a friend can set up ‘anchors’ in your mind, so that if you’re having a bad day, you will remember those anchors and be able to better cope with small struggles.

They write that your brain actually “stores up positive and pleasant moments to fight off the bad ones”.

How sweet is that? Our brain, similar to our immune system, creates ‘bad-day-antibodies’ when we have positive interactions with friends, and these allow us to get through rainy or hard days.

It is so important to have positive interactions with our friends so that we can build up our bad-day immune system.

Take some time today to phone a friend and let them know that you are thinking about them. Ask them about their day, what made them smile and what made them sad. Then maybe invite them over, or meet up outdoors. Take time to enjoy the friends around you, to support them and be supported by them.

We are better together friends! 😊