It’s so hard for me to grasp what this day represents. A day that always seemed so far away is finally here. It’s bizarre, to say the least.
So here it is: my labor of love. MOVEpwr. This site is a representation of me at this very moment. An amalgamation of my passions in one place, and the way they intersect with each other. More than anything, it answers the question How is movement healing? whether that’s in regard to the neurobiology of the brain, the way people with disabilities can move, what yoga is, or another wildly fascinating topic that combines science with the practically magical power of movement. Read my informative articles, blog, and more at my website (!!!):
My website really is the product of an entire semester of work. But also, as I prepare to come to terms with the fact that I have finished my undergraduate career at Umich, I realize it is much more than that. It is the product of three and a half years of back-breaking, stress-inducing classes at this university. It is the product of 16 years of formal education, falling in love with learning and curiosity. And it is also the product of 21 years and 11 months of living a life of passion. Loving dance. Being broken. Wanting to help others. I am so proud to have this project be a representation of who I am right now, who I have carefully crafted myself to be.
Thank you, T, my classmates, Sweetland, and everyone who has encouraged me to follow my passions. And thank you University of Michigan, for an undergrad experience I’ll never forget. Forever and ever go blue.
You’ve made it. If you’re reading this, planning for your capstone, you’re likely about to begin your very last semester of your time here at Michigan. Can’t you practically taste the rest of your life after this class comes to an end?
Well don’t give into that excitement and terror and uncertainty yet. This class is an important one. The capstone to the writing minor, like the gateway and probably many other classes you have taken in relation to your love of writing, is centered around you. What do you want to know? Who do you want to be? What do you want to create? Why is it important you put this creation into the world? That is why you are in this class. Not just to fulfill your requirement. Not to fill space in your academic schedule. To create. To find yourself through your creation.
As you begin this class, know that the chaos happening inside your head is completely normal. You’re probably thinking things like What the heck am I going to spend all semester doing? Is X project good enough? Do I really care about this topic? Will I have time to get everything done? Is it going to turn out like I hope it will? Breathe. There have been many before you, and many will follow you, who think these same questions and still finish the semester with an incredible piece of work. Somehow or another, with your dedication and passion for writing, you too will be a successful capstone student.
My advice to you as you begin the course, is to think with your heart. The project that you are about to create needs to represent something you love, something you are truly curious about, something you are willing to dedicate dozens of hours upon. Do not think with your brain. Don’t get wrapped up in how much work it may or may not be, who your consultant could possibly be, what grade you think you could get, etc. These logistics will come up eventually, but when choosing a project, the first priority must be your interest. And remember that a project can be basically anything. Maybe you just want to reflect on your time as a student here. Maybe you want to write a novel. Direct a movie. Make a twitter. The ideas are endless, so don’t limit yourself to something your brain tells you is a safe bet. This is a unique opportunity to explore the wide range of possibilities.
What’s more, remember that although this is your last class of the minor in your last semester of your last year here as an undergraduate student, it is not the end. It is the end of a chapter in a long book of your life. One that will have many more ups and downs, creative projects, social outings, challenges, and more. Do not wallow in the finality of your time here. Continue to be curious. Continue to learn. And most importantly, continue to write.
A blog post as captured by gifs from my favorite tv show (Schitt’s creek. Highly recommend)
Is it bad to still be feeling sort of lost? I have written a lot. I have created a lot. I almost feel ahead of the game. And yet, the whole project is still so nebulous. I’m in a weird place. I’m used to staying about four days ahead of my assignments. I have an “if you’re on time your late” mindset that has complete control over me, and therefore I have to be doing things early. With this, I’m always a day or two behind my projected goal. This stresses. me. out. I’ve planned important pieces every single day up until the deadline, so it’s nerve wracking to feel like I’m not working at the right pace. And despite having begun a website draft, blog posts, and even research-article drafts, the project feels like something that won’t ever be done. Or if it is, won’t be a unified thing. Or if it is done and unified, won’t be interesting or important.
Kind of a downer of a paragraph, and as boring as it seems, I know my solution moving forward is to just keep going. Keep chugging way. I need to write enough, create enough that this project becomes tangible enough for me to make the changes that will unify its parts and turn it into an important piece of work. I know it will be. I also need to just keep writing because I really do need to stay on top of my calendar. That might just be the stressed out, chronically early, perfectionist in me saying that, but I’ve planned out my days so that I can turn this sucker in, and I plan to do that on time. Maybe one day early. Tbd.
As I move forward, there are a few things that I’m a bit concerned about, or that are at least weighing heavy on my mind.
Taking pictures. I really don’t know what I want the pictures on my site to be, which is an issue because it’s one of the most important parts. How boring would it be to just be pictures of me?! How can I find inspiration for pictures regarding movement and health? I’ve considered taking pictures in yoga classes, but I’m not allowed to do this because I’m currently a teacher in training and it is unethical. I’ve got some thinking to do. And a photoshoot.
My shadowing date with my D/mt consultant. I’m thrilled to be able to shadow her, but the date I was able to get to her is not the best, and I’m worried my three hour round trip will not lead to much inspiration or knowledge.
Again, I’m nervous that my project is not going to feel unified or important. I truly want this to be a good resource, but who am I to give out this information? Am I putting too much of myself into it? Will the information all make sense together?
Being pessimistic in nature, it was also a good exercise to think about what parts of the project I’m excited about.
My consultant Kaity really is the perfect match for this project. She truly wants to make it known that movement is powerful, and I’m really excited to meet her and see what she does. This has sort of been four years in the making, because when I was a senior I asked a bunch of d/mts if I could shadow them and never really got around to it. Now that I have a (different) career path, I can’t wait to see what it’s like to be a d/mt. My discovery of Kaity has been my biggest breakthrough for this project. I have high hopes that she will play an important role in the project. She has already given me a great interview and I think she will provide good feedback when it comes time for me to give her my work thus far. She seems like an incredibly genuine, knowledgeable person and I’m thrilled to be able to take advantage of that.
I’m really interested in the other resources that I’m finding to link on my website. I have found numerous podcasts, articles, and videos that focus on some aspect of my project. And when they’re all compiled together I think they will be really effective in demonstrating my purpose.
As I move forward, I want to ensure that I am still focusing on research. I can’t think that because I’ve started to write, I am done researching. That’s really never the case. Especially since I want to continue this blog portion after the class is done, I need to continually be learning and expanding my knowledge and passion. I have already found a TON of research on yoga. I have learned about the many many maaaaany benefits that researchers have associated with the practice of yoga. Too many to write here, or even on my site (what to do with this knowledge???). I want to learn more about how to create a yoga flow based on a “limitation” such as anxiety or autism. This will come with my yoga teacher training, as well as outside research. I also would love to expand my research articles with more information about different kinds of disabilities, the way disabilities connect to movement, more details on the neuroscience of movement, and more.
This class, like gateway, moves so slow and so fast at the same time. It’s slow because we work on (essentially) one thing for an entire semester. We have almost four months to do a single project, so we have the luxury of spacing things out. But not really. The class moves crazy fast because these projects are pretty massive. When I first came into the class, I had 0 plans. Not even a twinkle of an idea in my brain for what my project could be. And then, as soon as I sat down, class was over and we had five days to come up with not one or two, but FOUR project ideas, one of which would ultimately be what we spend the whole semester working on. That stressed me out.
But coming up with my ideas turned out to not be that hard. As students in college, and as writers, we tend to have a lot floating around in our brains at once, and creating ideas is about going fishing for those ideas to turn them into a tangible plan. I was pretty excited about three out of four of my ideas, which is a decent turn-out. I told them to my mom and to my friends, and felt myself picking a favorite as I explained each one over and over.
Right before I came into class, I told my roommate how it would go down. “I’ll read all my pitches and they’ll all be like ooooh sandcastles and I’ll be like yeah but movement, you guys.” I had made the decision that a website about the power of movement in our minds and bodies would be a really thrilling project for me to create. It could incorporate various styles of writing, extensive research, implementation, and be an exciting challenge. But it wasn’t quite as beautiful as my other two. One, that dealt with mental health on campus as a senior and another that dealt with the impermanence of life expressed as a metaphor about sandcastles. But I didn’t want to do those. I wanted to do movement. I did my best to put this decision in the very very back of my head and be open to hearing what my classmates thought about my pitches.
The reality of the situation was almost exactly like my prediction. The class seemed most intrigued by my senior year and my sandcastles pitches, not as much by my movement one. They even suggested combining the two former ideas in a study of the temporary nature of life and life’s events. I do love these two ideas. I think they’re both important in their own way. I loved hearing people’s ideas, like Amy’s suggestion to include coping methods to practice during senior year and Courtney’s note that a pamphlet about senior year would be really beneficial on social media. I plan on carrying these ideas out.
But not now. Not here. Explaining my pitches one final time to my class made me realize the passion I have for movement and its healing power in our minds and bodies. It really encapsulates a lot of who I am at this point in my life, personally, academically, and professionally. I really can’t beat that. I’m so grateful for this class for providing me with the time to do a project like this because I wouldn’t do it otherwise. This is the perfect time for a movement guide as I depart from my life as an undergraduate student and enter a new future. I hope to make a guide to senior year in my Community Action class this semester. I hope to make a photobook about sandcastles and life after I graduate and live in uncertainty for a few months while I get my life together. I really appreciate my peers for encouraging me to pursue these ideas. Sorry, though, guys. Not gonna happen yet. Stay tuned.
This class has been such a highlight of my semester, and although there are parts that will inevitably challenge and frustrate you, there is so much more that will make you proud, excited, and passionate. Here are my tips for incoming gateway students taking this class!
Be excited. This is a class unlike any other (except maybe the capstone, from what I can tell) that allows you to use all the creative freedom you could eve want. Take advantage of that! Create experiments you wouldn’t otherwise create and write stories that might not belong in any other setting but this one. This is the place to do it.
Be passionate. In my opinion, writing is one of the ultimate ways not only to express your passion, but to appreciate it even more. Imagine what you would gain if you spent an entire semester writing about something you care about.
Be open. Share your work when your teacher asks for volunteers. Make a groupme with your classmates and use it to vent, to workshop, to ask questions. Appreciate the blessing that is all of your classmates and your instructor, because if you let them in, they will improve your writing beyond your wildest dreams.
Be persistent. The gateway class is a lot of work. There are multiple assignments for each experiment, and many more for the project. But don’t get lazy. Keep writing your assignments, your essays, and in your journal. That’s the only way you’re going to improve this semester, is if you keep going.
Be supportive. You are a vital resource in your classroom, whether you think of yourself that way or not. Read your classmates’ work, write letters that tell them what you love and how they might improve, and devote yourself to being open to helping them. This class will improve your writing, but it is also a community. Take advantage of that.
Most of all, enjoy the class! This is what you want to be doing and this is where you should be. Live it up!!!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!
When I looked back for my Writer’s manifesto that I had written at the beginning of the semester, I was sure that I would need to change it to fit what I learned this semester. I am a new writer with new knowledge and skills, so I figured those novelties would be something I need to include in my manifesto.
Turns out, the reason why I write is the exact same as what it was in the beginning of the semester, maybe even more strongly so. Find a passion and follow it. Give it your all. Pour your soul into it. No matter what I know, or what challenges I’ve faced, or how experienced of a writer I am, passion drives me. And the ride is so worth it.
I started with a dance. How could I not have? Excited about this class, thrilled to have a semi-functioning knee, I tackled the composition and performance of a dance from the point of view of someone with autism. And I enjoyed it. Truly, I did. I find gratitude and joy in my body every time I step in a studio. But I knew, right from the start I think, that this wouldn’t be my project. Despite its uniqueness in the class, dancing is safe. It’s part of who I am, it’s easy for me to create, and it wouldn’t teach me much about becoming the flexible writer that I want to become. I did, however, reinforce my career choice and remind me of my love of educating others. Progress, I suppose. Side-tracked progress is progress nonetheless.
Another experiment I dabbled in was my free form poem as told by anyone who loves or has loved someone on the spectrum. As an utter poetry novice, I felt the drastic difference in my comfort levels from my first experiment. DRASTIC. I had no idea how to write a poem in the slightest; I was miles and miles away from my comfort zone. I mean, I got it all figured out, I suppose, and I landed with a solid, effort-filled, sort of lame part of a poem. I really tried to get interested. I read tons and tons of free form poetry, I listened to poetry podcasts, watched poetry on youtube… Poetry is amazing. I’m touched by practically every poem that I interact with. Except my own. It’s a weird cognitive dissonance that I’m experiencing, loving poetry, loving what I’m writing about, and feeling nothing about my poem. I’ve learned plenty, about writing poetry, about autism, about who I am as a writer, but my lack of interest and excitement with this experiment that is so far from everything I know in life means this won’t be my project.
Thankfully, experiment 2 is the perfect one between the other two. Creating a children’s book is something that I’ve never done, but something I could try. Not only that, but it is a project that will challenge various parts of who I am: a writer, an illustrator, a researcher, a caregiver, and various others. This differs from my dance, which only utilized one part of me, and my poem, which challenged parts of me that have been barely developed. I knew it as soon as I started (I hate how cheesy that is) that this would be the experiment I fully realize. Creating the project has been an exciting challenge, unlike the other two experiments that I had begun. Finally, I had found a happy medium! Here’s to this experiment turned project becoming real!
My final project will be a realization of my experiment 2, a children’s book. My initial plan for this book was to fill a hole in a lesson plan I created for students that I worked with that were in preschool and had autism. After I worked on the experiment, I know that the book can be fairly universal for all young children, not just preschoolers or preschoolers with autism. The book is about a boy named Rodney who only likes to eat red food. Later, when he feels his stomach grumble and looks in the fridge to find only non-red food, he decides to eat other colors and enjoys them. Real climactic, I know. But the simplicity is important for my audience. I’m also going to include a parent’s guide to sensory processing disorder (regarding food) in the back of the book because that will connect it more to my original lesson plan for students with autism as well as broaden the audience. I knew that this would be my final project as soon as I started working on it. It combines so much of what I love (children, writing, books, drawing, special needs!!!) and it’s the one experiment that I truly enjoyed working on the most.
Here are some of the steps I need to take to turn my experiment into a true project and to finish the semester strong:
Revise and edit the actual words/plot of my book (do most children’s books use active or passive voice?)
Revise my sketch as things start to change as I produce the book (e.g. using markers instead of water color)
Choose a title (HELP)
Draw all illustrations and scan them in
Make a physical draft of the book and read it to some kids I babysit- see what they like and what they don’t like
Revise based on kid preferences
Choose a product site (Blurb? I’m going to have to send it in fairly soon to have it shipped in time!!)
Format book online and order (does a PDF come with this?)
Figure out how to get book online
Work on wix site: make project more forward and give experiments the back seat
Although I’m stressed beyond belief, I’m really looking forward to finishing all my illustrations and starting to see my book come together online and even in the physical form! I’m a little apprehensive about a few things, especially the title, because I can’t seem to come up with a good one, no matter how hard I try. I’m also a little nervous about shipping/pricing stress; I’m hoping I find a good way to create the actual book… sometime this week (!!!!!!) so I can get it shipped in time. Re-configuring my mile-long to do list in my brain as I type this…
If I were to freeze myself, or my brain, or my typing fingers, or my hand with a pen in it and put it in a time capsule there’s a few main facets of who I am as a writer that would stand out to future earthlings.
Writer=creator. Coming out of my experiment where I created a dance from a piece of writing, I have begun to equate these two words more than I have in the past. In creating and performing my dance, I’m sort of doing the same thing I would if I were to be writing, say, a research essay. I did preliminary research/work/preparation, I created an outline and a vision, a purpose, a message, and I made a product to be revised and polished. The thing with dance, though, as opposed to writing, is that I can’t just look in a thesaurus and nail my message into the audience’s heads with new ways of wording an abstract point. And as much of an exciting challenge that is to rely on movement to relay a message, I sort of miss that about physical writing. Every so often, I think I have something important to say, and the best way I know how to do that as of now is through words.
As a physical pen-to-paper writer, I’m casual… with a purpose. I like to create a conversation with my audience because I am learning to make my pieces sort of a conversation with myself too, when appropriate, and stopping myself from going in with a lesson. I am finding such joy in realizing my message as I write, in not needing to plan, and in finding passion even when I didn’t think any was there.
I’ve learned in the past year more than ever that writing is therapy. Doing writing, reading writing, it’s all good for the muddled, angry, scared, inspired brain. Sometimes it feels good to scribble your emotions down, letting tears drip down onto your page. Sometimes it feels good to list everything you love about life. Sometimes it feels good to list everything you hate. Do what you need to do, but do it in writing. In the last year, I’ve written through serious injury, terror, grief, and betrayal. And I’ve come out the other side. I’ve also written through love, bliss, inspiration, and excitement. And I’m that much happier.
I guess right now as a writer, I’m basking in the sheer power of writing as I explore and learn more about it. After all, this is only the gateway.