Color Theory

I like to think of myself as an artist. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to practice it in a while due to huge amounts of homework from classes. You college students know the struggle. Even though my hand-eye coordination might have faded due to lack of practice, knowledge about the technique still sticks around in my head. What’s been bouncing around in my skull most recently is color theory, which is how one mixes colors to achieve the target color, and how to use each color to complement another. It’s also how colors are perceived and how they can subliminally affect the viewer’s mind.

Each color has its own set of emotions it conveys. Red, for starters, represents anger, passion, hunger, and power. Purple stands for mystery, magic, and royalty. You can see advertisements utilizing colors in order to sell certain items; fast food chains do this all the time. Billboards with burgers surrounded by red makes the food more appealing, since red can make the viewer hungrier. Meanwhile, vacation resorts might stick with blues and greens, since they’re calm, cool colors that convey peace and harmony.

Everyone has a favorite color. A lot of the time, this reflects certain traits about their personalities. For instance, since my favorite color is blue, it could be reasoned that I hold harmony and imagination high in value. My brother’s favorite is green, which is a color usually associated with hope, life, and nature; all of these are important to him and part of his personality. Those who favor red might be more passionate than others, and so on.

At the beginning of the year, I was diagnosed with chronic depression. There are many myths and preconceptions about depression. Therefore, I had to figure out how to word the symptoms in a way that most effectively described exactly what I was going through, since sadness and suicidal thoughts are definitely not ways my depression manifests. In the end, the most accurate description I can come up with is this: the world loses its color. Sure, I can see colors as well as anyone else. But when it comes to perceiving them, there’s no passion in the reds, harmony in the blues, peace in the greens, or mystery in the purples. My brain physically struggles to convey emotions, and what’s left is grey.

Grey is fine. Grey is grown-up, independent, and business-oriented, which is why you’ll see many businessmen and women in grey suits. But grey lacks what the other colors provide. Imagine two drawings of the same thing: one uses color pencils, the other uses normal, grey graphite. In the colors of the background, you can see a struggle between red-hot passion and the quiet blues over the subject, a girl. In the graphite drawing, there’s no struggle between the two emotions. The grey background blends together, and in the end, there’s only a girl standing there, simply… standing. The picture has lost the meaning and message it was meant to convey. The girl is still there, of course, and she can definitely be beautiful, but the picture lacks a whole dimension.

One of the best ways to see colors again is to look for them. The warmth of a sunset, the waves of a lake, the emerald leaves of a tree, the ink on a sheet of paper. These things can lose their color if one forgets to stop and look. Every moment has colors swirling everywhere, and in the bustle of everyday life, they can be lost upon our busy eyes. This doesn’t just mean literal colors, either. If you enjoy a particular person’s presence, a good joke, or even a simple bowl of cereal in the morning, the color of the moment can be lost unless one pays attention. So, as I struggle to remember to stop, look, and remember to restore the color to my world, feel free to sit and join me. Don’t forget what colors are like. Push back the grey. Enjoy each moment, mixed with all the color and emotion that comes with it. Each moment is a valuable painting, and we can preserve it if we remember to stop and look.

Written by Isaac

Image credit: Leonid Afremov. (His stuff is gorgeous—check it out if you like this one!)

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The Cat

The cat’s long, black tail swings down from the branch, swaying in the breeze. As a kitten, she was taught to never give away her position when hidden in a tree, but things are better now. She can relax around these humans as long as she is out of their reach. She’s learned from experience that staying away from the humans is, in general, a good idea, but they won’t hurt her if they see her. Not the way they once did. The cat hasn’t been around for long enough to remember a time when the humans, especially the male variants, took a liking to making cats’ lives miserable, and she’s glad that they have learned their lesson.

From her perch, she watches silently as the sun rises and the humans come back to life. Slowly, one by one, they begin to emerge from their homes, yawning and bleary-eyed. Most are laden with cloth bags filled with bricks (or so she thinks, based on the way some of the humans are bent under their weights). As the sun gets higher, more and more humans appear, progressively looking and sounding more awake. Some of them are practically bouncing as they walk; others shout at their friends as they somehow use their inferior vision to spot a member of their species across the street. Groups of them pass by the cat’s tree, all talking loudly. Some are laughing, even shoving each other around playfully, like little kittens playing in the street. The cat simply doesn’t understand such immaturity, but she reminds herself that they are humans, after all, and they can’t be expected to carry the same dignity as cats.

Some of the groups are more solemn, but the cat doesn’t like those groups, either. Three females walk past, one with water running down her face (the cat has never understood the point of this human ability); “She lied to me!” the wet one warbles, only for the humans to awkwardly assure her that “everything will be okay.”

Humph, the cat scoffs to herself. Weak humans. If I mewled like a kitten every time a cat lied to me, I’d never eat.

The cat moves to an adjoining branch to get a different viewing angle on the next group, another set of females. Their faces are all red; the cat wishes in their stead that they could grow fur to cover that up. “Who does he think he is?!” one of them screeches, piercing the cat’s sensitive ears. “Sometimes I just want to smack him. What a jerk!”

Once again, the cat rolls her yellow eyes in annoyance. Who cares what one human thinks of another? Focus on making yourself less annoying, and maybe you won’t have to complain so loudly.

Shortly after, a group of males walks by, shoving each other and laughing so that the cat’s ears pin themselves to her head. Nevertheless, her impeccable hearing still deciphers their speech; “Bro, you need a break. Let’s play Smash this weekend, you can catch up later.”

Skipping work to play games? How immature. How do these humans expect to survive by playing games like kittens all day? The cat flicks her tail in annoyance. As soon as the humans are all gone, she plans to descend the tree and find a quieter spot to brood.

The next face that comes along is one the cat immediately recognizes. This female leaves food out almost every day next to her home just for the stray cats in the area, and she never yells, but merely whispers on the off chance that the cat lets her guard down near her. Unlike the other humans, she is alone, and she holds her phone up to her ear, speaking into it; “I don’t know what to tell you, girl. God’s in control, so just don’t freak out. He’s in control and he loves you, just don’t forget that, okay…?”

The cat relaxes as the human strolls away. At least one of them is bearable.

The stream of humans has ended at last, and the cat gracefully leaps from her perch and slinks away, head and tail high.

Written by Catherine

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cat_on_the_tree_3.jpg

Writing Pet Peeves

While I certainly haven’t read every book under the sun, I’ve come across various types of written works during my journey as a reader. From stumbling through Dr. Suess as a five year-old to dissecting ancient Greek plays as a college student, I have witnessed a plethora of writing types, styles, and mechanisms. Though the wonderful, vast world of literature has greatly enriched my life, along the way, I’ve picked up on multiple things that I disdain, too. Yes, I really do have writing pet peeves. Most readers probably know what I’m talking about. When I was in high school English, one of my often-expressed pet peeves was, “If Charles Dickens goes into another four page monologue AGAIN…I’m going to throw this book in the bird feeder in hopes that the crows ravage it.” I interviewed a few of my co-workers in the University Writing Center to get a few outside opinions, and I think we compiled a pretty convincing list of complaints. I hereby declare that if any author includes one of the following literary nuisances into his or her work that they shall be banned from the creative world. Because that’s what creativity is all about, right? Conforming to one idea and squashing out all outside opinions…no? Oh well; I’m still going to share my pet peeves anyway.

  1. Using fragments excessively (see what I did their…I mean THERE. We’ll talk about that later, I’m getting ahead of myself.)

My friend, Alfred, described to me a reading experience in which the author was so prone to beginning new chapters and scenes with small sentence fragments that he was too annoyed to finish reading the story. I know what he means. We’ve all stumbled across that YA suspense novel that’s attempting to twist every emotion inside us by throwing grammatically nauseating half ideas at us.  It might read a little something like this,

Darkness. Can’t see. Hands sweat. I grip again. Nothing. All is lost. Where am I? Oh, that’s right. Work again. Burger King at four in the morning. Simply mind-numbing. I can’t stand it. This blasted job. The sizzle of the fries rings in my ears. No hope. Just carbs. Woe is me.

  1. Over-poeticizing

Similar to sentence fragments, the attempt to come across as deep and poetic can often appear as just the opposite. The author might think that those hard-hitting, three word sentences can’t possibly grow old, but let me tell ya, readers catch on fast. Maybe at first we released a dreamy sigh when we saw that darling metaphor, something probably akin to, His eyes sparkled as a forgotten ship still dreaming of sailing in glory, which now rests at the bottom of the vast azure sea. Yet, when these types of pathos-infused sentences are consistently written throughout a story, it’s tiring. It can even be annoying, and in my personal experience, it may entirely turn the reader off to the point of the story. Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing, concerning this.

  1. Using the wrong word

My coworker, Nathan, presented this pet peeve as well. There’s nothing more frustrating, especially when texting or emailing, when our dear friends, whom we love despite their flaws, can’t seem to grasp the concept of using the correct “there” or “to” or “your.” I’d like to take all of these offenders on a friendly picnic which includes both a quaint wicker basket full of bite-sized sandwiches and a grilling grammar lesson. My hope in this endeavor is that they would walk away informed and determined to not cause further literary confusion in their writing. You’re welcome. See? It isn’t so hard to get the hang of it.

  1. John Green

*Listens to sound of teenage girls banging my front door with pitchforks as I sip coffee safely indoors* No, you didn’t that read that wrong. And YES, I am a warm-blooded, fully-human, teenage girl. I am John Green’s target audience, and yet, I cannot stand his writing. I know he means well and that his stories have harped the heart strings of millions of adolescents worldwide. However, I just can’t take it seriously, and I find it a little humorous that I am supposed to find his stories serious. To be fair, I have only read two of his novels. I tried to read The Fault in our Stars when it was at the height of its literary fame. I mean, everyone was talking about it and my friends begged me to read it. I gave it a whack. I pretty much gagged through the whole first chapter. I mean, Mr. Green, I know you’re trying to be relatable and all, but neither Hazel Grace nor Augustus Waters were believable to me. Sorry, but my peers don’t engage in philosophical conversations which end up not being philosophical in the slightest. I’m down for reading about thought-provoking ideas, but not when they are presented through ludicrous scenarios. I’m merely saying that as a teenage girl, I would find it more weird than romantic if a boy confessed his love to me and immediately followed it up with, “and I know that love is just a shout into the void.” Then like…why say it, moron?

Though these annoyances have merely scratched the surface, I’d like to think they cover some of the most grieving irritations to be found. However, don’t let these get you down. Reading has a lot to offer. Chances are, you aren’t as cynical as I, and you will probably learn a great deal from your reading experiences. But if you do happen to notice any writing habits that really burst your bubble…*evil grin* tweet meeee! Let’s be friends.

Written by Karoline Ott

Personal Twitter: @Karoline_Ott

UWC Twitter: @dbu_uwc

Image credit: https://thecreativecavern.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/everyone-is-a-reader-some-just-havent-found-their-favorite-book-yet.jpg

Works Cited

Goodreads Inc. “A Quote from The Fault in Our Stars.” Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., 2016. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

Slow Down

What is life? Is it a series of events on a long and winding road? Is it a game of chance where things happen for no apparent reason? Or are we just pawns in a game being played by alien overlords? Whatever the case, we all have to go through life together. Here’s the rub, though: some of us go through life way too fast.

Many of us rush through life trying to get to the next step or moment. When doing this, we often miss out on some of the best parts of life. As students, it’s really easy to live and work for a paycheck. After all, classes and work aren’t fun! I’ll often sit in class and think about my schedule for the next day and count the hours before they even happen. This way, I can figure out when I will get out of class and when I can relax again. It seems there is this rollercoaster of going up on the weekdays and down on the weekends.

Even if that’s not the case, it’s that we’re always busy. As a society, we’re going a mile a minute (which is really impressive, when you consider how fast that actually is) and we don’t seem to be slowing down. Even our relaxation time has been encroached upon by things to do. Can you believe that? We consider it relaxing to do things! I’m not talking about reading a book or playing video games. I’m talking actual activity. As Relient K puts it, “Lately, it just seems to me that we’ve got the letters A.D.D. branded into our mentality.”

I get this guilty feeling quite often when I’m doing absolutely nothing at all. I feel like I should be doing something. I feel like relaxing and doing things that really aren’t productive is bad. We have this engrained into our minds: if we’re not busy, we’re not productive and we’re lazy. I can’t even remember where or when I got this idea. I just remember going from Saturday morning video games and cartoons to freaking out if I sleep too late on Saturday, worrying that I’ve wasted the day.

While all of this is not inherently bad, let’s take a look at what all of this busyness actually does to us. In 2011, the American Psychology Association posted the results of a study done on stress in America. The causes of stress are not nearly as important as the symptoms. Some of the biggest symptoms include irritability or anger, fatigue, lack of interest, anxiousness, headaches, depression, and the list goes on and on. Furthermore, in order to cope with stress, people turn to unhealthy habits. Things such as drinking, binge-eating, smoking, and the like have been used to self-treat stress.

Obviously, there’s a problem. The problem isn’t stress, though. Stress is merely a byproduct of a lot of different things. The biggest perpetrator appears to be busyness. While laziness is indeed a sin, I would say that busyness is one as well. It hurts our health, puts a strain on our families, and, most notably, hurts our relationships with God.

On Wednesday nights, I work with the teens in the youth group at my church. The most common excuse I get for not spending time with God is busyness. They all talk about how, thanks to school and dozens of extracurricular activities, they cannot find the time to spend with God. I feel like that’s how it is with a lot of us. Imagine if we treated our significant others the way we treat God. I doubt my girlfriend would be cool with me postponing our plans because I was just too busy.

I once heard a pastor say that if you’re too busy for God, then you’re too busy. And that’s just it: we’re too busy! We like to busy ourselves, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s to escape the reality of life or a bad situation. Regardless, it’s literally killing us as a society and it hurts our individual relationships with both God and man. So… Slow. Down. Take a breath. Take a break. Remember to relax. If need be, schedule time to relax. Schedule time with God and family, too. Spend time resting, however it may be. You’ll be surprised to see how much it actually changes your life.

Written by Alfred

Image credit: clipartbest

A Motivational Quest

I stand there frozen in fear. The stairs in front of me seem incredibly daunting and I wonder how I will ever overcome them. Once again I ask myself why on earth I would want to do this. To answer that question I mentally run through the process that got me here. It all started last night when I read an article about how great running up and down stairs is for bodies. I then decided that a stair workout sounded like a great idea and figured I would try it out the next day. That decision led me to where I am now: standing petrified in front of a horrific looking flight of stairs. Doing this workout seemed like a great idea beforehand, but for some reason I can’t seem to find the motivation I need to actually follow through with it now that I am here.

Perhaps you have experienced a situation similar to the one I just described. Or maybe you can’t relate to that at all. As it turns out, you could be the type of person who really doesn’t like to work out and you never really care to find the motivation to do painful physical activities. In that case, you might better relate to an academic struggle for motivation. If so, just think back to a time when one of your professors assigned a paper for your class. You procrastinated for a little while, but eventually came to a point where you knew you had to write that paper. You sat down in front of your computer and prepared to write, but as you stared at the blank computer screen you just couldn’t seem to find the motivation to begin writing. The entire writing process felt painful and foreboding; how could you ever build up the courage to take on such a task?

Finding motivation can be a very difficult endeavor. Even those people who are balls of energy that never appear to need any extra motivation sometimes hit a slump. There have certainly been times when Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled and didn’t want to go work out. At some point in his life, there was a period when Beethoven had trouble getting started with a symphony. Yes, I tell you even Hitler had days when he couldn’t seem to work up the motivation to attempt to take over the world. It happens to the best (and the worst) of us. But this is no reason to fear! On the contrary, together we can work to overcome those dreary days when your enthusiasm has hit rock bottom. Today, I am here to give you six tips to gather the motivation you need to begin even the most formidable mission.

  1. Make your task incredibly easy to begin.

When you are beginning to embark on a fearsome venture, start with something really easy. Do not tell yourself that you begin writing when you are finally typing words; tell yourself that you have already begun once you turn on the computer. Do not start a work out by lifting weights; instead, start it by tying your tennis shoes. Do not say that you start getting out of bed when you leave your bed, say that getting out of bed begins when you turn your alarm off. This mindset makes it much easier to get over the hump of beginning a task. Instead of having difficulty beginning, you will find that the difficult part is actually continuing. However, by then you will have already begun your mission, which will greatly enhance your motivation.

 

  1. Focus on your goal.

If you have a goal or a reason for doing something then it will be much easier to make yourself do it. For example, if a man is attempting to do a workout, he can focus on how he wants to better his health. Instead of thinking about how much running stairs hurts, he can tune his mind to emphasize the benefit of running those stairs. Doing this allows him to remember why he wants to work out and then use that knowledge to fuel himself.

 

  1. Stay positive

The more negative you are, the harder it will be to get motivated. If you keep telling yourself that you hate writing and that your paper will probably turn out badly and that having to write a paper is just ruining your life, then you will probably never find motivation to write that paper. That is exactly why you have to change your outlook from one full of negativity to one full of positivity. Remind yourself how well you can write (even if you don’t think you are a great writer). Remember that writing a paper will only take up a few hours of your life, which really isn’t that bad. Stay positive, and it will be much easier to find the elusive motivation that you seek.

 

  1. Reward yourself.

What better way is there to get yourself to do something than to place a reward at the end of the road? When you set aside time for a project, allocate a little time for something you enjoy as well. That way you can treat yourself to a reward after you finish. Then, when you are trying to motivate yourself you can remind yourself that there is something to look forward to after you are done with your difficult task.

 

  1. Use peer pressure to your advantage.

When you are preparing to tackle an unsettling enterprise, enlist the help of your friends. Tell them all about what you are going to do or even post about it on social media. Ask them to hold you accountable so that you do not veer from your course of action.

 

  1. Watch the Shia Labeouf Just Do It video.

Seriously, just watch it. You think this is a joke, and on one hand it is, but it actually leads to a very helpful tip: get motivated by watching or reading something that you find inspiring. Although it may not be the Shia Labeouf video, you should still attempt to find something that appeals to you personally. This will help to inspire you and raise your motivation levels dramatically.

(Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXsQAXx_ao0)

 

There you have it: the six things that I have found to be the most helpful when I am trying to find motivation for a task. Doing these things can be extremely beneficial in your quest for motivation. Just remember, even though it may seem impossible, you can do it. Just like the Little Engine that Could thought that he could, I know that you can.

 

Written by Nathan

Poetry In Construction

The drops of rain pounded like bullets off the tin roof. Their clang echoed within the mudded walls of my room. I sat on my bed reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet. As Charles Wallace rode atop Guadior, the winged unicorn, the rain water seeped through the window sill, the drops congregating in puddles on my room’s floors.

Working with locals

I was in Siquatepeque, Honduras during the wet season. It had been raining for ten hours straight. My feet slipped through the flooded hall of the small, adobe house.

“Feels like I’m swimming in lake Yojoa,” I thought.

“Ben,” Kristina, the mom of the house, called, “Venga.”

Dinner was ready. I joined the family at the kitchen table. Water incased its legs. Lenincito, my eleven year-old roommate, flopped his feet against the tile rhythmically.

“No Lenin!” Sarah, his sister, yelled, angry that her legs were soaked.

Kristina handed me a plate. On it laid two fresh baleadas and some slices of avocado.

“Gracias mamá!” I licked my lips. Kristina was famous for her baleadas.


This summer I found myself in Honduras for six weeks. When I first arrived in Siquatepeque, I asked myself the simple

Working on a cabana at SEBCAH seminary

question: “What on Earth am I doing in Honduras?”

Construction. That was the answer. I was the Construction Intern for Camino Global, a Christian mission organization.

There was only one problem: I knew nothing about construction. As a Writing Center Consultant, my fingers were used to holding pens and pencils, not hammers and screw drivers. Nevertheless, many blisters later, I learned that book readers can also be homebuilders.

But, I also learned that construction is like poetry.

In another book by L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time, Calvin O’Keefe describes the forms of sonnets. A Shakespearean sonnet is typically fourteen lines, following the rhyme scheme of:

a b a b

c d c d

e f e f

g g

Though these regulations seem to stint the creative process, they actually sustain it. Without form, a poem is like a painting deprived of a canvas. The paint starbursts everywhere, reaching the corners of the earth. Yet it spreads itself thin, revealing not a grand masterpiece, but a poor picture without centrality and reason.

In the same way, a house is comprised of necessary components. Without exact measurements and cuts, the walls collapse,

Spanish class in Siquatepeque, Honduras

the floors crack, and the home cannot function properly, which is to provide shelter for a living being.

In a great dance, disorder and order twirl hand in hand. The universe is a poem: from the hundreds of stipulations that hold the planets together in fragile gravitational pulls, to the millions of mysteries mankind doesn’t understand and may never understand, we find ourselves within the realms of black matter, where form and chaos battle, creating beauty.

The Blank Page Nightmare

I want to start with a confession: I’m a scaredy cat. I can’t handle scary movies or scary television shows… even scary music gets me (anyone else afraid of the Jaws theme music?). For the most part, I can escape these horrors. I can turn off the TV or walk out of the theater, but the scariest thing in the world to me is the one I can’t avoid.

A blank word document.

I’m sure some ofor the blog 6.15.15f you can relate to this. Have you ever opened a word document to start writing a paper, only to find your cursor blinking along as the clock ticks your night away while your brain goes totally blank? Even when you finally manage to get a few words down, they just don’t sound right. So you struggle on, typing sentence after sentence, hoping that maybe a few will say what you actually mean. It’s one of the most discouraging experiences a college student can have. I know this from personal experience.

If you’ve ever been there, I have good news for you.

Good news part one is that you’re not alone.

As a writing consultant, I get paid to give other students advice for writing papers, but that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from the blank document dilemma… and I’m sure my fellow consultants would say the same. Even the rare ones of us who enjoy writing, the mystical unicorns of academia, still struggle on occasion to put words on paper.

Good news part two is that there are ways to overcome this nightmare.

First, if you struggle with figuring out what to say, try recording yourself talking. In most cases, you’ve probably already got some good thoughts swirling around in your head, but it feels like there’s an invisible roadblock between your brain and your hands. Or maybe it’s that you’re afraid what you have to say won’t sound academic enough. Either way, recording yourself talking through your thoughts can be a huge help. You can play back the recording, type what you said, and then edit the draft to make it sound more organized, formal, and paper-y.

Second, if you struggle with making your papers say what you mean for them to say (or clarity in general), try reading your rough drafts backwards one sentence at a time. The trick to writing clear papers is writing clear paragraphs, and the trick to writing clear paragraphs is writing clear sentences. The problem with reading forwards is that sentences blend together so much that our brains tend to overlook gaps in logic or missing words or whatever may be disrupting our thoughts on paper. Reading papers backwards one sentence at a time helps us isolate individual thoughts to make sure they sound right and say what we mean. It also helps with catching spelling or grammatical errors, so that’s a plus!

As a final note, when you sit down in front of that menacing blank document, remember that rough drafts are supposed to be rough. Don’t let the fear of getting it wrong paralyze you when you start writing a paper. Getting it wrong is just a stepping stone on the way to getting it right. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

Written by Caitlin