SJLA Retreat, Yoga, Comedy Show, and Pet Therapy

This past week has been packed with so many fun activities for me.  On Saturday morning, I had an SJLA (Special Jesuit Liberal Arts) retreat; on Sunday afternoon, my RA hosted a Yoga & Yogurt floor program; on Monday night, I went to the final USPB comedy show of the semester; and this afternoon, Tuesday, was Pet Therapy.

SJLA is an honors program which I was invited into upon my acceptance into Scranton, and which I began in the first semester of my freshman year.  SJLA is a four-year program which in part determines my (and every other SJLA student’s) curriculum – there are a certain number of required SJLA classes each semester.  Starting next year, there will be only one section of each SJLA class so I will have class with everyone in SJLA.  For the most part, we all know each other (I knew everyone, but not everyone knew every single person), but this retreat was an opportunity for us to meet or become more familiar with our fellow SJLA students. Unfortunately, as many SJLA students had commitments this weekend (there was an orchestra concert and it is the final weekend of rehearsals for the Liva musical), we could not have a full-day retreat at Chapman lake.  Instead, we had a four-hour retreat in Collegiate Hall, a beautiful multipurpose room in Redington Hall (where I live).  Most days students use it to study, but occasionally it is reserved for events like this, the yearly benefit concert, or Second Chance at Prom – which was this Friday night.  The retreat was so much fun – I loved hanging out with some really great friends and thinking hard about moral questions.  That sounds so cliche and so stereotypically SJLA, which is very much a philosophy-based program, but the questions we discussed really made me think about existence and humanity and moral relativity.  I would have loved for the retreat to be longer, but we definitely made the most of the time we had.

On Sunday at 4 PM, my magnificent RA Kelly held a floor program called Yoga & Yogurt! She set up a greek yogurt bar: vanilla and plain yogurt, sliced almonds, granola, peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon.  Yum!! After we ate our yogurt parfait creations, she led us through a calming and challenging yoga practice.  I felt rejuvenated and strong!  Kelly always puts on really great programs, and this one was no exception. Tomorrow night we have a chocolate fondue program… I am SO excited 😀

Yesterday (Monday) night, USPB Comedy had their last event of the year.  The British comedian Chris Jones came and gave a great show.  He was absolutely hysterical.  The audience loved him, and I was so thrilled to see the huge turn-out for the show.  Nearly every seat in the theater was filled.  He deserved it, too!  It was a great event, and I am so proud of my friends on the Comedy committee for ending their reign as co-chairs in such a tremendous way.

Today was the best day of the semester – Pet Therapy Day!!! My friend Shannon’s mom, Miss Nancy, brought their adorable dog Holly!! Holly is a Portuguese Water Dog and a therapy dog, so she is a pro at events like this! I love Holly and I am so grateful for the opportunity to hang out with her today 🙂  After Shannon and I finished our classes, Miss Nancy took us out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s.  It was so sweet of her to include me in their plans and I had a great time with them.  Coincidentally, St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen (a soup kitchen within walking distance of the University) was having a fundraiser tonight – 20% of the bill goes towards the Soup Kitchen! So, of course, we participated.  We met a very kind woman who organizes the event twice a year.  The next fundraiser will be sometime in October, so if you’re in the area, definitely go to Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch or dinner!

Tomorrow is supposed to be absolutely beautiful – temperatures in the 70s and sunny!?! Sounds like perfect weather to me.  So get outside if you have a chance! I hope everyone has a beautiful rest of your week! You should definitely check out Liva Arts Company’s production of RENT this weekend, and get excited for Spring Fest on Saturday – the biggest USPB event of the year! See you there!

Tori

Beautiful Weekend!!

This weekend may very well have been my favorite of the semester… it was so perfect!!

After a busy week, I started off the weekend by going to Art With Heart on Friday afternoon.  Art With Heart is run by The Center for Service and Social Justice and anyone is welcome to create art which will then be sold, and the money raised gets donated to charity.  I painted a small canvas panel.  My friend Shannon also went; she is working on an abandoned piece – one that someone started but never finished.  The piece is about 1 square foot and the original artist adhered sheet music to the square panel.  Shannon added 4 accents – triangular pieces of card stock in the corners of the piece.  She also began drawing a flower in the center.  It looks beautiful so far; she will continue working on it this week!

That night, a little after 8:00, my friend Summer called me and asked if I wanted to bring my guitar down to the Rose Garden with her and our friends Alex and Brina whom she was with.  I said yes, of course! – and asked Shannon if she wanted to come too.  She did, so we went down to the Rose Garden and met Summer, Alex, and Brina there.  We talked and played guitar and sang songs.  It was so magical!! We also saw a huge herd of bunnies (okay… “rabbits”) and I decided that was good luck.  Apparently, it was, because the weekend just got better and better.

In the late morning and early afternoon on Saturday, I volunteered at the Ronald McDonald house.  There were about ten of us volunteering, and it was so much fun.  First, we sorted food donations by year.  Then, a few of us went outside to paint wooden chairs for a family.  The weather was absolutely perfect for being outside!

On Saturday night, I attended the annual Urban Beats Showcase.  I went last year, so I knew how amazing it would be and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Plus, I have a few friends on Urban Beats – which is the hip-hop dance club at Scranton.  My friends Shannon, Natalie, Brina, and Summer also went, along with hundreds of others! They had a great turnout, and they completely deserved it.  The members of UBC are extremely talented and they work so hard; when they get together they are unstoppable and unbelievable performers!  They put on a truly phenomenal show.  I highly encourage anyone and everyone to go to the showcase next year and for as many coming years as possible!

On Sunday afternoon, I was sitting outside Redington Hall (where I live) playing my guitar.  My friend Mike walked past and asked if he could sit and listen.  Shortly after, my friend Summer told us she was going to Nay Aug Park with a couple friends (Dillon and Lindsay) and asked if we would like to go.  I could not possibly turn the opportunity down.  I brought my guitar, though my wonderful friends carried it part of the way, and we walked to the park.  Once we got there, we walked to the water and sat on the rocks (about 50 feet above the water) for hours, just talking and playing guitar and singing, or sitting in silence.  It was such a beautiful experience.  The weather was so perfect – I know I keep saying that, but I am just telling the truth! If you were lucky enough to be in Scranton this weekend, you know what I mean.  The sun was shining, there was a cool breeze, and the temperature was perfect.  We promised each other we would have another Nay Aug adventure soon, and finally head back to campus after a few hours.

Once we got back, Summer and I went to dinner with a few of our other friends… yum! I didn’t realize how hungry I had gotten from all the walking; dinner tasted especially good on Sunday. (But dinner here is always great; Scranton has amazing food)  After dinner I went to church.  The 7:00 PM mass is always a nice way to end the weekend 😀  Before I knew it the incredible weekend had ended, but it was just making way for this great week 🙂

It’s A Beautiful Day…

Spring is finally here!!! (3 weeks late… but after these past few days, I’m willing to forgive Mother Nature for the tardiness).

On Sunday morning, I volunteered at the Scranton Half Marathon.  It was such a perfect day to observe a half marathon 😀 (And a perfect day to run it… if somehow you find enjoyment out of pounding the pavement for a couple hours straight).

After the half marathon, I went to brunch and Sunday mass.  On Sunday afternoon, my friends Summer, Mimi, Shannon, and I decided to sit outside and play guitar and sing because it was just so beautiful outside.   It was a perfect way to relax a bit before my busy week. 😥

The beautiful weather continued into Monday.  It was so warm, I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  I spent all my free time on Monday outside.  I ate lunch and dinner outside because it was just so beautiful.  The campus truly came to life! There were so many people on the Dionne Green, I have to say I was a bit shocked… I didn’t even know there were that many students at the school.  😆  People were doing homework, passing footballs and frisbees, playing guitars and drums, and chatting with friends.

On my way back to my dorm after doing some homework on the green, I passed a few of my friends – Summer, Mimi, Natalie, and Brina.  They, too, were sitting outside enjoying the absolutely marvelous spring weather!! They asked me if I wanted to get my guitar and play music and sing for a little bit… of course I said yes.  Two days of jam sessions… what could be better?  Summer and I played guitar and everyone sang along to a few different songs.  Eventually it got a little cooler as the sun set, but it was so nice while it lasted 🙂

The beautiful weather continued today, too! It was supposed to rain, but the skies were clear all day!! Again, there were people hanging out on the green and the DeNaples patio all day.

Today I went to the second week of the meditation series.  Last week we did a body scan, this week we became mindful of our breathing.  I really enjoy the meditation series.  It’s a nice break in the day and I’m learning some valuable stress-coping mechanisms.  I think that committing to meditation and mindfulness certainly improves one’s quality of life.  The instructor told us last week that meditation is very simple, but it is not easy.  It is not complicated, but it is difficult in that it requires focus and discipline.  I am trying to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into my daily life.  Sometimes it just slips my mind, but forming this new habit is a process!  When I remember to take a few moments and be present and mindful, I feel better. I feel less stressed and more positive.  I am so glad the University is offering this meditation series, because it has already improved my life and I am confident it will continue to do so.

I hope tomorrow and the rest of the week brings equally gorgeous weather as that which we’ve had the past few days!  Beautiful weather can make even the busiest of days seem not so stressful for me.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Floor Programs, Easter Break, Meditation, and USPB

Welcome back from Easter Break!

I hope everyone had a restful and enjoyable holiday with family and friends and chocolate! 😀 I know I did.

Before break, my wonderful RA (resident assistant) Kelly put on two fantastic programs! The first one was a Sharpie-mug-making and cookie-eating program (except no cookies for me since I gave up sweets for lent 😥 )  This program was fun and relaxing – I got to be artistic and hang out with my friends!

The second program was in honor of Women’s History Month (March).  We watched the film Miss Representation, which I had never seen before. The film was very well done and eye-opening.  I was familiar with much of the information in the film, but some of it was brand new to me.  Miss Representation is a documentary which discusses the underrepresentation of women in positions of power as well as the misrepresentation of women in popular culture. The movie is about four years old, so it is still extremely relevant, though some figures may be different now.

Easter Break came so quickly – we had just a week and a half of class between Spring Break and Easter Break!  So… back to Baltimore I went!! On Saturday, I went to my grandparents’ house to spend time with my dad’s side of the family and celebrate Easter.  My grandparents are definitely the cutest grandparents around 😀 .  On Easter Sunday, I went to my aunt’s house for annual Easter dinner.  Everything was so delicious!! And, of course, spending time with family is always nice.  We shared stories and played cards and ate lots of carrot cake!

Break flew by, and before I knew it it was Monday- time to go back to Scranton!  I moved back in and caught up with friends and got ready for classes to resume.

On Tuesday, I went to the first meeting of a six week meditation series (open to students, faculty, and staff).  It is a half hour long, from 12:10-12:40.  I absolutely loved it!  The instructor encourages mindfulness in anything and everything, and guided us through a body scan to become mindful of our bodies. I am so excited for the next five weeks of the program.  My friends Shannon and Summer and I all went together to the first meditation and plan to go together for the next five sessions as well.

On the USPB front, my co-chair Megan and I are planning our last two events for the year 😥  It’s so bittersweet!  I am very excited for the summer, which is just over six weeks away.  But I’ll miss having Megan as my co-chair! I did not know her at all before USPB and now we know each other so well.  She’s graduating this year, so I won’t even see  her around next year. (muffled sobs) However, we are both so excited to give our all for the last couple events!  One of the last two events is the country trio Mockingbird Sun, who will be performing on the DeNaples Patio on Wednesday, April 22 – just two weeks away!  We are very excited to welcome Mockingbird Sun… and we are equally excited that this is the Spring Fest kick-off event!  Our very last event is Battle of the Bands, which takes place at Spring Fest (which I will talk about in another post – it deserves its own!! I can’t do it justice in a couple lines).  The bands, which must have at least one member who is a University of Scranton student, compete at Spring Fest for the grand prize, 10 hours of studio time.

Welcome back to campus, everyone, and have a great rest of your week!