Mythology with Erin

Adventures in storytelling

Tag: Week 1

Time Strategies

I’m a very goal-oriented person. I love progress bars and checklists because I feel accomplished after seeing a completion percentage go up a few points or getting to scribble something off of a to-do list. If you were to follow my Goodreads page, you would see that I meticulously keep up with my reading progress in each novel that I read, and every year I set a goal of reading 52 books.

I’m always looking for ways to streamline my time management so that I can spend more time on personal projects and relaxing. It’s not about finishing every task or assignment as quickly as possible; it’s about allocating the proper amount of time for a particular task and no more. It’s about being efficient, which is one of my favorite words. 

My time management goals this semester are about finding balance between my schoolwork, my online class, marching band, my leadership duties at the OU Wesley, and time for myself. It sounds like a lot, and it can be very stressful if I don’t do something that was discussed in this article: The Psychology of Checklists. It says that it’s important to set small, manageable goals to work your way to accomplishing the overall goal. So instead of saying “I’m going to finish my online course by dead week” and then frantically working to make that goal, it’s far less stressful to say “I’m going to do X amount of extra credit work each week.”

One way that I set small goals is by using a to-do list in an Excel document. There, I input every task that I need to accomplish, from doing laundry to finishing a set of readings to having coffee with a friend. I set the due date, and I prioritize each item on the list from 1-3, with 1 being “This needs to be done today” and 3 being “It needs to be done, but there’s no rush.” Then, I work down the list, and every time I complete a task, I enter the date it was completed and filter the table so that I only see the incomplete tasks. This works for me better than a physical planner or a written to-do list because it’s much more fluid, and I can pull it up on any device. 

I also read this article called 14 Time Management Tips for Creatives. As a creative, I wanted to see if it had any ideas I could add to my time management habits. Turns out, I already do many of the things on this list! One of my favorites is starting with the tasks you don’t like or find difficult and finishing with tasks that are easier or enjoyable. This keeps me from procrastinating on big, scary projects and helps motivate me to finish them so I can get to the tasks I like.

I am also a huge proponent of healthy breaks, as mentioned in the article. My brain works like a sprinter. I can get a lot of work done in short bursts of 30-50 minutes, but then I shut down. I need to switch tasks, walk around, or eat a snack before I can be productive again. I really liked switching tasks in high school, especially for difficult English reading. For example, I would read the required text for 20 minutes, then I would read a “for-fun” novel for 20 minutes. Sometimes I could even fit a third item into the circuit, like math homework. This meant I was getting my homework done with meaningful understanding, giving my brain a break often, and working on my personal goals all at the same time! The article warns away from multitasking, and perhaps it would count this strategy as such. However, I actually found it easier to focus more fully on each thing in my circuit because my brain was always fresh after a topic switch.

Something that the article discussed that I have not actually tried–but would like to–is keeping track of how I spend my time in detail and using that data to better structure my time. I’ve done something similar with food, by tracking what I eat and determining what things I need to cut out and what I need to add, but I hadn’t thought of doing it with time. It would be interesting to find out just how much time I waste scrolling through Facebook or how I can adjust my morning routine to get more sleep.

Most of what I know about time management comes from my college band director, who gives us a time management seminar every year. I was a freshman last year, and my mind was blown by how much I needed to get done and how unstructured college schedules were. By implementing his advice, I was able to have a much better grasp on my overarching goals and how small steps could help me achieve them. I never had to pull an all-nighter last year, and I never forgot to do an assignment because I tracked and managed my time wisely. I’d like to continue to do that, and to continue to find ways to balance the many facets of my life.

Image 1: Black and gold clock face. Source – Pexels

Image 2: Robin Sharma time management quote. Source – BK on Flickr

Technology Thoughts

I’ve always been a tech-savvy person because, like many people my age, I’ve had access to computers and the Internet for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories of using the computer include playing CD-ROM games on the house’s old, box-shaped desktop, and the first computer program I learned was Microsoft Word around kindergarten age because I needed somewhere to write the scripts to the skits that I made my brother perform with me. Now, obviously, I’m able to use much more sophisticated applications and devices, and I’m interested in learning more about web design and other web-based technologies in this class

In high school, I learned to use Adobe Photoshop to a degree and even took a college course on it, so I know a few things about photo editing software. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to Photoshop, but I’m interested in learning about some free alternatives in this class!

I started blogging in January 2018 for another class at OU, and I really enjoyed it. It was something that I had always wanted to do, but I had never had the resources or knowledge to get started. Having my grade depend on it was all the motivation I needed! I like learning how to do new things with the blog to make it look more professional or better organized. This semester, I would like to get more familiar with WordPress and its applications.

I’m interested in the website publishing aspect of this class because growing up I always had the misconception that to create a proper website, you had to know programming languages and how to code. After looking at some of the previous Storybook projects, it’s apparent that that is no longer true, and I’m curious to see what kinds of neat and creative things I can pull off with my nonexistent background in computer science.

Overall, I love the idea of combing storytelling with modern technology, and I think it’s great that this class isn’t entirely buried in Canvas. It seems that not only will we learn about mythology and folklore in this class, but also how to use the Internet in a more mature and efficient fashion.

Image: Close-up of a circuit board. Source – Flickr

Class Assignments

I am so excited for this mythology class! I was a bit skittish about it at first because so many people have told me that online classes can go very poorly, but I’m really enjoying myself so far. For some reason, this class feels a bit like playing a video game, where you play for just a little bit each day, maybe accomplish a few story goals or side-quests, and then put it aside until next time. I love being able to work at my own pace, and I love learning new things about blogging and the Internet. I also love mythology, which is why I’m chomping at the bit to get to the real curriculum!

I’m very impressed by the variety of assignments that we’re going to do in this class, and I’m excited by it because it means that I won’t get bored. I’m interested to try to the Tech Tips extra credit assignment because I like learning nerdy new computer things, and the Wikipedia Trails one should be cool because falling down the Wikipedia rabbit hole is something I already do, usually way past my bedtime. 

As for primary assignments, I really like that there will be a lot of storytelling in this class. I’m a writer by trade, so the idea of taking the things we’re learning about mythology and turning them into something of our own is right up my alley. I expected this to be a more lecture-heavy class, where we would do a survey of different mythologies from around the world and then take a multiple-choice test on them, maybe do a research paper with a half-dozen sources. Typical, boring class stuff. However, what’s actually going to happen sounds much more fun.

I do expect to learn a lot in this class, and I expect to be challenged, mostly because this class looks like it will give me the option to challenge myself! I’m both excited and nervous about the Storybook project, and I’m intrigued to find out more details about it so I can start to choose a topic. What I’m most excited about, though, is getting and giving feedback with the other students! I expected this class to be lonely since it’s self-guided, but I like that there is interaction built in to ensure that there is an element of collaborative learning, just like there would be in a traditional class. I can’t wait to read everyone else’s stories and to share my own!

Image: A college student studying. Source: CollegeDegrees360 on Flickr

Intro to Growth Mindset

I’ve always had a bit of an interest in educational theory, not because I wanted to be an educator, but because in elementary school, I was placed in our district’s “gifted” class. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what that means about how I learn. I’ve done some exploring of educational research, but I had never heard of Carol Dweck’s “Growth Mindset” until now. Growth mindset is all about believing that intelligence is not a fixed trait. Rather, it is something that can be developed through time and effort. Instead of assessing students–and ourselves–on a quantifiable basis (i.e. how many math problems were completed correctly) we should instead assess and praise the effort put forth. Essentially, Dweck believes that we should encourage students to excel at the process of learning rather than the end result. I was very impressed to see that there’s been significant scientific research to show that these ideas aren’t just sentimental; they can actually help students achieve more.

One of my formative memories of my education is of going to a Montessori preschool. This means I was in charge of my own learning, more or less. I could choose to read picture books, play with animal figurines, or help make a snack whenever and for however long I wanted. I think this experience led me to become a self-motivated student. My pursuits of learning have always come from innate curiosity, which, according to Carol Dweck, is probably a major reason why I have achieved highly in school. I’m so glad that my parents–and school teachers–chose to teach me in a way that allowed me to learn the value of effort and curiosity instead of just telling me that I was smart. That would have been pretty easy for them–certainly easier than entertaining a hyperactive and precocious toddler–but I would not have the love and breadth of knowledge that I do now.

Dweck says that if a student completes an assignment and feels that it was easy, then that student was not being challenged enough. I can see that this makes sense, and it’s for this very reason that I was glad to be in gifted classes often. Those classes were accelerated, and the teachers were very good at finding the right ways to challenge each student. We had very few students in each class, which allowed that kind of attention from the instructor. However, I’m not sure how this idea could practically be put into practice in a modern classroom. Regardless of whether students have innate levels of intelligence, they are still going to move at different paces, and what it easy for one third of the class might still be challenging to the rest. How can a teacher trying to teach 30+ students a full curriculum in a six-hour school day manage to individualize lessons and assignments enough to appropriately challenge each student? Perhaps Dweck would suggest to give all of the students the challenging assignment and then praise the effort of the students who are still struggling greatly, but too much of a challenge will still be discouraging, and the students may not be able to fully grasp the material in time.

Regardless, having a flexible mindset about ability and achievement is almost always better than a fixed one, especially in areas outside of traditional education. I’m a musician, and I practice often so that I can learn new skills and hone old ones. If I believed that I only had a set amount of musical talent, then I would have no reason to practice. Anything that I could not play the first time, I would believe to be out of my reach. Likewise, if I mastered a piece, I would believe that I would never have to practice that piece ever again. Neither statement is true. A common thing musicians talk about is that for some of us, it may only take 20 minutes to learn a particular passage, and for others, it may take two hours a day for a week. But regardless of that time, we believe that everyone can put in enough effort to eventually learn the passage. I believe this is a great example of having a growth mindset in the real world. 

I really like when Dweck talks about the value of the word “yet,” which adds so much more potential and opportunity to a failure. It reminds me of when I tried to read a Jules Verne novel in late elementary school. The language of the book was dense and nearly impossible for me to read even though I had been told that I had an extremely high reading level. Instead of becoming discouraged and thinking that I wasn’t smart enough to read the book, I decided that I just wasn’t ready yet. I set the book aside for several years and was able to read it much more easily in early high school. I think having a “not yet” mindset would really help a lot of students who I know have been discouraged by past failures and have decided they simply can’t do things.

I’ll be very interested to learn more about growth mindset this semester and to start consciously applying it to my work in and out of class. I think the idea may be flawed in small ways, but overall, it’s a very positive way of thinking and a great way to approach a challenge or even a failure.

Image 1: Tree. Source – matism on Flicker

Image 2: “This may take some time and effort” Source – Growth Mindset & Feedback Cats

Introduction to a Storytelling Drummer

Hi! I’m Erin. I’m a sophomore from Bossier City, Louisiana, which is in the northwest corner of the state. I decided to come to OU because I have always had a dream of going to an out-of-state university, and I got a great scholarship from OU that made it possible. I really love it here!

I’m a professional writing major, which is essentially a degree in storytelling. It’s not just about creative writing; it’s about learning how to communicate ideas using various media. That being said, I do love writing fiction, particularly long-form works like novels. My favorite genre to write is fantasy, which is one reason why I am so interesting in mythology. My biggest dream is to publish novels and one day work my way into being a full-time writer.

I am also a musician! From first grade to twelfth, I took piano lessons, but my favorite instruments are drums. I started to play percussion in the band beginning in sixth grade, and now I play snare drum in the Pride of Oklahoma. I love being in marching band because it’s a great place to make friends, and we get exclusive access to football games (I love OU football!). Since joining the Pride, I’ve been to Ohio State University, Kansas, the Texas State Fair, AT&T Stadium, and Pasadena, California. I’ve marched in the Rose Parade and been to Disney Land. Not only does band allow me to express myself through making music, but it also gives me opportunities that I never would have been able to pursue! I love my OUDL family!

My favorite band trip has been the trip to Ohio State. WE GOT TO FLY which was mind-blowing for me. I never imagined that OU Athletics would care enough about us to fund private flights, but it was so great! We always do a big “OOOOOOOOOOOOOO-U!” on take-off, and then we sing “Oklahoma.” The trip was in September, which is blazing hot in Oklahoma, but in Ohio, it was nice and mild, which was a great break. It was astounding to walk into Ohio Stadium, a coliseum of immense history. And then we won! I was standing on the field waiting for post-game concert to start when Baker planted the flag in the O. What a moment!

Pride of Oklahoma snare drums at Ohio Stadium. Taken by Tati Rodriguez, September 2017

In addition to playing marching band snare drum, I’ve also learned to play drum set, which is my all-time favorite musical activity. It’s so much fun to be at the back of the stage laying down a groove with other musicians. Mostly I just love being the only one in charge of the tempo and beat. I play drum set in the worship band at the OU Wesley, which is a great way for me to unwind from school stresses.

A hobby that goes hand in hand with my love of writing is reading! I love reading everything from young adult novels to classic British literature. I have a slightly obsessive book collection of over 500 books at home that I probably need to thin out. Everyone always asks me what my favorite book is, but I can’t answer with just one. Instead, I have categories of favorites. My favorite novel that I’ve read this year is Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. It’s a whimsical and fantastic book that really brings me back to the joy of reading that I had when I was younger. My first favorite book was Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, which I read in first or second grade. One of my favorite YA authors is Maggie Stiefvater, and my favorite classic authors are Charles Dickens and C.S. Lewis.

Like many people my age, I watch a lot of TV and movies. Some of my favorite TV shows are: Parks & Rec, Brooklyn 99, Stranger Things, Gilmore Girls, and Doctor Who. My favorite director is Christopher Nolan, who made masterpieces like Inception and Interstellar. I haven’t seen any of his Batman movies yet! I’m also a movie score nerd, and Hans Zimmer is one of my favorites. I always listen to him while I’m studying.

When I’m not reading, writing, or drumming, I’ve recently learned that I like to cook! I love finding unique and tasty ways to make (fairly) healthy food. One of my favorite things to cook is red beans and rice because it’s an easy recipe that reminds me of home and is easy to share with others! I also love driving around in my car, which is named Raven, and hammocking in pretty places like Montana.

Overall, I’m a curious person who loves to learn new things so I can use them in my next story. I’m excited for this class because I have always loved mythology, and I want to learn more about why it’s important to the human experience. I can’t wait to get into it!

Gallery Images: 
Top Left: My cat, Sonny, sleeping in one of his funny positions. Taken by me.
Top Right: Sonny looking handsome at the vet. Taken by me.
Bottom: Sonny exploring our backyard. Taken by my dad.

Storybook Favorites

While browsing through the previous Storybook projects, three of them caught my attention due to their creativity and interesting topics.

  1. Manebook: Connecting Lions Since Aesop’s Time
    I thought the format of this project was incredibly creative, as it’s a Facebook page set up for lions found in classic fables. This made the stories very character-driven, and I enjoyed how they were told using the modern language found in digital communication. I also liked the narrow focus of the project, as it was only focused on lions, rather than a broader topic that would become confusing with the Facebook parody. The website was designed very fluidly, and I liked how it could be explored non-linearly.

  2. King Arthur in Japan
    I chose this project because I loved the concept of the story. I’m very interested in King Arthur myths, and thought it was creative to combine that classic Western story with Japanese folklore. The idea of maybe doing a similar blended topic is exciting to me because it allows the opportunity to be clever and to point out the similarities between different cultures. If I were to borrow these general ideas for my own project, I would like to try to branch out from just straight prose, though.
  3. Dungeons & Decisions
    This is one of my favorite projects because it is so creative and uses web design to make an interactive storytelling experience. Like the King Arthur project, it combines modern storytelling culture from Dungeons & Dragons with Inuit folklore. I love how some of the stories have multiple endings, and I enjoyed clicking through everything multiple times so see all of the possible scenarios. It would be cool and challenging to try to create something similar for my own project, though I would like mine to have a little more emphasis on the content of the mythology. I would not have understood the Inuit references in this project if it weren’t for the author’s notes.

When I start my own project, I would like to borrow from some of the overarching design and storytelling ideas in these three projects to create something unique and equally creative.

Image 1: Once upon a time. Source – Pxhere

Image 2: Colorful Cube Role Playing Game Play Craps Source – Max Pixel

My Favorite Place: Glacier

Personally taken panoramic view of St. Mary Lake on the East side of Glacier.
June 2018.

This summer, my family took a vacation to West Montana to visit the stunning northern Rockies and one of America’s greatest national parks: Glacier. I fell in love with the entire Flathead Valley, which is full of adorable towns like Kalispell, Whitefish, and Columbia Falls. The mild summer weather was blissful, and the many clear lakes were gorgeous. It was so relaxing hammock outside of our cabin while watching the sun set over Whitefish Lake.

Once we entered the mountain range, I was astonished at the size and majesty of the peaks. Even at the end of June, there was snow! For a girl from Louisiana, any sighting of snow is exciting. We went on hikes through beautiful, peaceful forests on trails that led to high-altitude snowmelt lakes or past rushing waterfalls. There was wildlife everywhere; we came face to face with a huge bull moose, and we saw two grizzly bears, luckily from a distance.

I truly loved Glacier National Park and the surrounding areas, and I could envision myself living there or somewhere similar in the future because of the beautiful landscape and plethora of outdoor activities. I love hiking, kayaking, and enjoying nature, and I would love to get better at skiing, so mountainous regions are perfect for me. I can’t wait to return to Montana again!

Yellow wildflower graces Logan Pass. Taken at Hidden Lake Nature Trail.
Wing-Chi Poon, July 2005. Source: Wikipedia

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