Stories

Journey into Mindful Journaling

5 Tips to Mindful Journaling

By Leziga Barikor

Traveling to a new destination can be worthwhile new experience and often times seems to go by too quickly. But the memories made while vacationing can last forever. The practice of mindfulness can help people develop their memories deeper.

Fast 5 Journal Prompts

  • What do you see here that is different from home? How would you describe it without a picture?
  • What does it feel like to walk down these streets? What is it like touching the sand, the rocks, cable car railing or other applicable items? Or think of the temperature or emotions anticipating a new experience.
  • What does it smell like where you currently are whether being out in nature, by a different ocean or in a new city?
  • What are you hearing right now the hum of traffic, the waves of the ocean, ect?
  • Did you try any new foods? What was it like?

For a more in-depth look, see the my video on travel journaling below!

Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be described in various different ways, but the same themes tend to appear in the literature on it.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He has published many books surrounding the topic of mindfulness and is well established authority on the topic.

Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as paying attention to the moment in a non-judgemental way. To be mindful is to know what is happening while it is happening. Another word to use instead of mindfulness is awareness.

The practice of mindfulness has it’s roots in Buddhism. The Buddha’s practice of mindfulness is what brought him to the point of being the “enlightened one.”

Mindfulness can also be seen as a skill which can be improved with practice. Applying mindfulness principles can increase self awareness and give people heightened mental insights.

To sum it up in Kabat-Zinn’s own words, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Travel

When it comes to traveling, the where actually proves to make no difference to the effect of the experience. The main effect people attempt to get out of traveling or vacationing is typically more happiness. Professor Jeroen Nawijn from Breda University of Applied Sciences studied happiness as it relates to travel.

According to studies on happiness cited by Nawijn, humans can control only 40 percent of their happiness. The other 60 percent breaks down with 50 percent being genetically pre-determined and than 10 percent unintentional activities. So choosing to go on a vacation can have a significant impact on a person’s happiness levels.

Taking trips or vacationing can affect happiness through the process of the anticipation, the event and the post-trip afterglow effect. Even months later, the memories of the vacation can increase happiness.

Research is inconclusive as to whether or not people who choose to vacation more are simply happier people than people who don’t choose to go on vacations according to Nawijn’s research.

One of the ultimate conclusions to Nawijn’s study is that vacationing only had a minor affect to people’s happiness. A possible explanation for this is that in Western societies tourism is seen more as the norm and no longer consider particularly special.

Taking this research into consideration, when it comes to traveling the best way to reap the most benefits is to improve the memories made during the trip. While sustaining the positive memories of the trip, it is also important not to fall into comparison with every day life because that can lead to diminished happiness over time.

Journaling

The process of reflective writing in a journal daily can help with processing negative events and create a frame for positive thoughts to flourish.

According to M. B. Williams psychology techniques book, reflective writing helps people better understand things in life. The key to journaling is found in consistency in taking the time to write thoughtfully with a purpose each day.

Daily writing is important because patterns of behavior and thought can be captured and then later reviewed to help people predict and advert negative behaviors. It also helps to have an established record of happy days to reflect on when life gets stressful. Write for quantity not quality; journals don’t need perfect spelling, grammar or writing style.

Mindful Journaling

To journal effectively is to practice mindfulness. This calls people to be engaged observers in documenting what they see.

One way to be an observer while traveling is to look for the differences between there and home. Is the language different? Does this place celebrate different holidays? Does it differ in shopping habits, meal times, currency, accents and dialects, ways of showing respect or more?

A travel journal when done mindfully can bring out people’s creative side naturally. The work of capturing ideas, impressions, experiences, emotions, events and information can easily fall into poetic prose.

In Linda Dini Jenkins “Journaling on the road” article, she discussed the various ways travel journaling helps improve memory and enhance creativity.

Check out my video on mindful travel journaling!

“Place is a powerful force, and we’re all drawn to different kinds of places for different reasons,” Jenkins wrote.

Place indeed is a powerful force and a journal helps bring the memories of that place closer even after leaving.

A good mindful journal should not simply be a recap of the travel itinerary. It should capture scene and the essence of the most inspiring moments from the day.

One of the tips that Jenkins gives in her article to make the most out of travel journal writing is to use the five senses each day. When writing a journal treat it like detective work and investigate the new surroundings.

As Kabat-Zinn wrote, the mind is like a mirror and mindfulness allows the mind to contain, encounter and know things as they are. It is a deeper level of wakefulness during experiences that allows for a better understanding of the human condition.

Jenkins’ stated the goal of a travel journal is to primarily “capture who you are in the moment.”

Livestream Reflection

For class, I had to conduct two livestreams. It was definitely an assignment that I wouldn’t have willingly taken on by myself.

It was easier to set up a livestream at an event than to figure out who to have on as a live guest. The two assignments that came out of that were both very interesting.

In my live event, it was a challenge to figure out who to talk to and how to navigate interviews in group settings. I think what I ultimately did finding time to talk to people individually worked out a lot better than bigger groups.

I also later on noticed in my livestream that I had forgotten to ask people for their names. When I was on live, I asked questions differently than I would have if I were just recording the interviews for audio.

For my sit down livestream, I got a very cool guest. It worked out that this doctor who specializes in topics that I was interested in came to town and was willing to chat with me. Through borrowing some of my professor’s equipment, I was able to a really great job with that. I think it turned out very well, and I’m glad I was able to write about an interesting topic that I could enjoy. I ended up writing over 1600 words in three days because there was so much great content.

This assignment was a good challenge, and I learned a lot about live reporting through it.

Brewing Culture

The Coffee Shop Appeal

By Leziga Barikor

Coffee shops and coffee have become nearly synonymous to American culture. Coffee shops or cafes have actually grown to be known as the “Third Place” according to a study done in the Journal of Foodservice Business Research. This means for many people, after home and their workplace, coffee shops are the third most important place for them.

For many college students at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), they don’t need to go far to find their third place. Sidecar Coffee located on the College Hill offers that service to them. But proximity is rarely the defining factor in whether or not people find enjoyment in a coffee shop.

Hospitality and coffee are closely connected whether it is at home or in a commercial setting according to the book “Coffee Culture, Destinations and Tourism” by Lee Jolliffe.

Jolliffe states that coffee offered to company and the informal nature of coffee shops, coffee houses and cafes all lends itself to the idea that coffee is connected to hospitality.

The first coffee house created dates back to Constantinople in 1534 but became popularized in the 17th and 18th centuries. The major historical and political ramifications of coffee houses in London and Paris still marks the nation today. While coffee shops have evolved through the decades, Jolliffe notes that the hospitality side of it has always stayed present.

Besides coffee, modern cafes include other amenities that foster a hospitable environment. In the study from the Journal of Foodservice Business Research, they identified four key elements to a good coffee shop which are: atmosphere, employee attitude, IT service and taste.

Atmosphere

On Wednesday, Feb. 13 two UNI students went on their very first date at Sidecar.

Seniors Trey Hitchings, a construction management major, and Sarah Koski, a psychology and criminology major, sat at a two person table and got to know one another.

Hitchings said he chose Sidecar because it was simple. The two met through mutual friends. Hitchings also noted the need for coffee during the mid-day.

A coffee shop is a casual and comfortable environment which can make it an ideal location for couples to meet for the first time.

Coffee Date

Sidecar barista and UNI sophomore elementary education major Meredith Luke has seen many coffee dates.

“I think very much the environment has a huge effect on it,” Luke said. “It’s also really close to campus, so it’s an easy way to get here.”

Luke has worked at Sidecar since August 2018, and she has visited the coffee shop herself prior to working there.

Luke describes the atmosphere of Sidecar as friendly, welcoming and “chill.”

“Everyone I see [on coffee dates] it seems like the people walk out pretty content and happy,” Luke said.

Dates are just one way coffee shops can be used by customers, but there are many more reasons people choose to visit one.

Luke said she has seen people go to Sidecar for interviews, just hang out or do homework.

IT Services/ Technology

Friends Hailey Gross and Darcy Bertolino spend an afternoon catching up with life together. Gross is a senior art education major, and Bertolino is a junior journalism and exercise science major.

They were one example out of many where friends meet up at Sidecar to spend time together and/or get homework done.

This is where modern coffee shops have the responsibility of providing good technology services which includes WiFi services, computer and phone outlets and desk space.

WiFi or Internet access has become a necessary service for coffee shops and several studies cited in the article published in the Journal of Foodservice Business Research, concluded that it enhanced service quality. Customers of coffee shops and restaurants reacted more positively to stores that provided free WiFi.

Employee Attitude

Customer service is one of the key elements to any business venture and that is especially the case for coffee shops. The barista is the face of the coffee shop, so how customers receive their interactions with them is crucial when deciding whether or not they will return again.

The study done validated research cited that positive employee attitudes affected the customer satisfaction.

Patrons to Sidecar Coffee appear to be fortunate in the area of employee attitude.

The workers are genuinely some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in life.

Meredith Luke, barista

“The workers are genuinely some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Luke said. “Honestly, I love them so much. They make coming to work so much more enjoyable and fun.”

Luke said she also enjoys the management Sidecar is under, and she had one of her favorite moments at the store as an employee.

“We did this thing called ‘Palentines,’ it’s like celebrating Valentines, but as pals,” Luke said. “It’s close to a gift exchange.”

According to Luke, in this all staff event, people pulled names out of a hat and bought corresponding gifts for the person whose name was chosen.

“It was just a lot of fun because we were able to come together as co-workers and enjoy being with each other,” Luke said.

Taste / Coffee Quality

The final key element to any successful coffee shop is the taste. When coffee is the main menu item of the establishment, it needs to be done right.

“I know a lot of people like the coffee. That’s what they’ve told me,” Luke said. “That’s why they like coming here.”

“I know a lot of people like the coffee. That’s what they’ve told me,” Luke said. “That’s why they like coming here.”

The study showed that the higher the coffee quality the higher the levels of customer satisfaction were at the coffee shop.

Brewing Hospitality

The contemporary cafe culture is recent to this century, but the $8 billion industry did not grow over night.

Wherever people have gathered to share coffee whether it was in a house or in a store, the aura of hospitality followed. This model for success first grew in booming Constantinople and followed traders to Europe.

One of the main selling points that keeps the coffee shop industry in motion is actually its diversity.

This is diversity in mode. Coffee shops are useful to students who need a caffeinated place to study. But they also provide good neutral ground for meetings and dates. And for the early morning commuter, they have the caffeine and bakery items needed to properly start the day.

Brewing Culture

The diversity in purpose to coffee shops keeps people coming in and out of the doors. Whether someone is searching for a place to stop and meet a friend or hears about one word of mouth, coffee shops draw the audiences who need them.

The culture surrounding coffee actually transcends American culture and connects the broader global community. Coffee shops may very well be the universal spot to show hospitality.

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Students invited to check DIS out


By Leziga Barikor

Students, UNI faculty and Cedar Falls community members all gathered at the top level of Maucker Union for a special event. The Center for Multicultural Education (CME) was decorated to celebrate the opening of a new office on campus. DIS, the new office of Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice. There were receptions was held on Jan. 24 at 9 a.m, 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.

“Today was the open house which was really a collaborative effort highlighting all three of our centers: the Center for Multicultural Education, Military and Veteran student services, as well as Gender and Sexuality Services as well as our merger under DIS,” said Keyah Levy, the CME assistant director.

The opening remarks and ribbon cutting were done by CME Director Jamie Butler Chidozie. She introduced people to the new office name and invited people to stay for a presentation from the various people involved in the process. There were food and drinks provided by UNI catering for people to enjoy. Chidozie led off the presentation in a side room of the CME.

First Chidozie introduced her colleagues and went over how they came up with their mission statement. The three departments met together and tried to see what collaborating would look like.

“The… thing that we found as we were getting together is that each of our offices really have similar values,” Chidozie said. “And that mission is two pronged, to serve in an advocacy role and a support role. So that’s really the mission of our three offices.”

This lead to their final mission statement for their new combined office which reads as follows: “Diversity, inclusion and social justice at UNI will promote equity and inclusion for all members of the university by leading efforts in diversity education, advocacy and support of underrepresented and minoritized individuals and implementing best practices to foster a sense of belonging.”

Chidozie summed it up as, “Our overall arching mission of creating a sense of belonging for all of our community.”


“Our overall arching mission of creating a sense of belonging for all of our community.”

Jamie Chidozie, Director of the Center for Multicultural Education

Chidozie and Levy represented the CME, while the UNI Military and Veteran Services was represented by Coordinator Chiquita Loveless, and the newly named Gender and Sexuality Services office was represented by Coordinator Emily Harsch. Loveless herself is a U.S. military veteran with high honors, and presented some information on the collaboration done during the sessions she was able to attend. Harsch also presented during the longer session and discussed how their offices plan to collaborate. One of the collaborations discussed was how the UNI Veteran Association (UNIVA) collaborated with LGBT* students in the Gender and Sexuality Services office which led to thunderous applause from attendees, such as Celeste Bembry, the student recruitment and retention coordinator.

Bembry later said in an interview that it was great to hear that LGBT* students and military veteran students were working together.

“I think this is just the beginning of a more inclusive and collaborative effort around diversity, inclusion and social justice on a campus-wide scale,” Levy said. “And this really gave us some visibility on campus.”

“I think this is just the beginning of a more inclusive and collaborative effort around diversity, inclusion and social justice on a campus-wide scale.”

Keyah Levy, Center for Multicultural Education Assistant Director

Leadership at UNI attended some of the reception sessions, including President Mark Nook and Provost and Executive Vice President Jim Wohlpart. Nook had kind remarks to make prior to the ribbon cutting. University Relations was also present at the 12 p.m. occasion to capture photos of the event.

Around the CME there were placards highlighting the people involved in the diversity efforts on campus and some of the past events that have been held. There were pictures of the different events held to promote diversity on campus.

One placard featured an event that DIS held this past fall 2018 called the White Privilege Symposium. It was held at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA, but DIS allowed UNI students the opportunity to attend. The symposium focused on learning about race, privilege, identity and intersectionality with various keynote speakers and breakout sessions for students to attend. There are also other projects still in progress that DIS is focusing on this year.

“One thing that I’m really working towards is called the ‘Humanize My Hoodie’ project,” Levy said. “That campaign is really to de-stigmatize labels. Specifically, we’re talking about threat perceptions.”

The exhibit is going to be held to educate people on the topic and spread a movement of more social awareness. It started Feb. 7 to 22.

Along with community members and faculty, there were students in attendance of the open house event. They socialized at tables with the food and drinks provided by UNI Catering. There were soups, sandwiches, water and Panther Punch. Some people sat at long tables, and other lounged on the couches in the CME.

“I think it is extremely important for every student to stop by the plaza level of Maucker Union and really just experience our space. We have things here for students across campus,” Levy said. “Whether it’s Heritage Month Celebrations, whether it’s ‘Hot Wings Hot Topics,’ or just fun game nights and things like that. I encourage them all to stop by and visit some of the programming we have here.”

One of the placards at the event highlighted the events that Levy mentioned. The Student Programming Coordinators (SPCS) are the ones who plan the diversity related programs on UNI campus for students to engage in throughout the school year. There were pictures of students and SPCS at the various events. One of the photo looked forward, advertising their upcoming Hot Wings Hot Topics event over Black History Month which featured both wings and door prizes. Another photo featured a Silent Protest event previously held.

This Silent Protest photo showed students holding up hand made signs advocating for various social justice issues ranging from immigration to the justice system. Some quotes from the poster include: “Alone we can do so little, together we can change the world,” “Accomplishments have NO color,” “’It always seems impossible until it’s done’ -Nelson Mandela,” “No humanbeing [sic] is illegal,” “Build bridges not walls,” “The opposite of poverty is not wealth, but justice,” “Civil rights are human rights!” “More black men are in prison today than were enslaved in 1850,” “Education is the key to unlock the gold door of freedom,” “Environmental Racism: A letter from Mexico to Flint” and “Spread love not hate.”

The other events in the photo featured many diverse students meeting together in the CME either for games, educational opportunities or enjoying food from UNI Catering. Some of the event planners for this year are Adalberto Castrejon (Beto), Kyla Ford, Zainab Illo, Jason Huang, Cierra Robinson and Ami Traore.

DIS Office Opening

Journalists, remember the mission

Reflection 1

Time Management

I had to arrive to the assignment location late because of the time I had between classes was limited, and I opted to check out a higher quality camera. I was able to get pictures and some video of the presentations occurring. I also got a minute long interview with one of the key presenters. Overall, I think the amount of footage I was able to capture was good for a shorter piece because this was a brief event. Had this event been any longer, there would be more opportunities to get pictures to extend the story.

Quality

In Depth

Arriving at the event, it was already well in progress. It was a little difficult to get my bearings and decide what was happening. Jumping right in, I saw that students, staff and community members were in attendance.
Interviews with the main subjects went well, and covered the basic groundwork for the event. I only conducted one interview myself, and then Tay conducted his own interview which I helped film. I recall my interview the best, and I asked what the impact of this event was going to be on campus which I think was important for connecting this story to my target audience.

Framing

It felt complicated to try and get the different angled shots because I worried about the other reports be captured on film. I tried to get good angles of the subjects without capturing other people’s cameras. I tried to frame everyone within the rule of thirds convention. The focus as well as the framing turned out well for most of the images I saved. I think I should’ve just taken a moment or two to interrupt what other people were filming to get my own shots. I definitely needed to get closer and worry about everyone else a little less.

Sound

The main purpose of our slideshow was to capture still images, but I did capture some video. Reviewing the footage, there is some background hum from the room, but the speakers can be heard clearly. The background hum is far more pronounced in my interview with Keyah Levy, but there are good quotes in it. I liked the framing of the interview, but the audio would be much clearer from a different location.

Visit my Stories tab to keep up on my reporting work.

What are you creating?

By Leziga Barikor

You know it’s late, but you just came up with a great idea. Do you write it down? Wait, where is your journal? Any scrap of paper will do. But by the next morning, are all your great ideas fading as fast as your dreams?

As a creative person, that is one scenario you might run into often. But the next scenario in many ways can be much worse. You are being given the freedom to dedicate time to create anything you want! So… what are you going to do.

In my mobile reporting class, I ran into the latter situation. I had to think about what I was going to create for 15 weeks spent in my class and outside of class time.

You can do anything! You want to do everything… but you can only choose one thing.

In situations like this, more creativity becomes your friend. Journal out your thoughts and ideas. Or make a quick video reflection about them. You don’t have to share it with the world, but the act of bringing your thoughts out of your head will help you decide what’s really important.

Think out loud.

What are you creating?


What am I creating? Vlog #1