Fresh Living

Fresh Living

Living Well on a College Campus

college_mug.jpgToday, Fresh Living gets schooled with a thought-provoking guest post from our intrepid and talented intern, Tufts University student Marysa Sheren.  Marysa is walking a path I know I wasn’t mature enough to attempt at her age–she’s learning to shape her life around sustainable, life-affirming habits that will foster health and happiness now and in the future. 


Below, she muses on the inherent excesses of the college experience, and she shares a journaling technique she developed to make sure she’s on the road to becoming what she calls “an empowered and mindful consumer of life.” Food for thought for all of us–and an invitation to recapture some of the freedom and passion we had when our adult lives were just beginning. Well done, Marysa!  Holly

On Poison Berries and Sweeter Fruits
By Marysa Sheren

As a
college student, I play in a world of excess: excessive studying,
excessive stress, excessive caffeine, but also excessive excitement and
anticipation of the future.  I consume incessantly – new people, new
ideas, everything bagels – sometimes without even realizing what I’m


colorful, noisy whirlwind of stimulation can make me feel vital and
occasionally provides a much welcomed adrenaline high.  But it can also
leave me depleted.  Sometimes, at the end of a busy day, I find myself
lying exhausted on my top bunk at night, somehow too tired to sleep. 

lifestyle, though uniquely collegiate, is not unlike that of countless
people who find themselves exposed to our society’s extremist tendencies
where the pace is fast and the consuming frenzy rages unconfined. 
Regardless of our location or vocation, many of us find ourselves
dizzied and disoriented by our culture of excess, unsure of which way is

A few weeks
ago, though, while deeply regretting the ingestion of an ungodly amount
of coffee, I had a formative realization: I have the power to choose
what I consume.  From the websites I frequent to the thoughts I turn
over in my mind, I am in the driver’s seat when it comes to fueling and
furnishing many facets of my daily life. 


My new
attitude in tow, I decided to write out in my journal which things –
substances, people, behaviors, thoughts – have a positive effect on me,
and which do not.  I wanted to be an empowered and mindful consumer of
life, no longer a victim of my environment but in charge of harvesting
its fruits, and of avoiding its poison berries.

I utilized
the blank page by splitting it in half vertically.  I titled the left
side “bad” and the right column “good.”  Simple enough.

The first
item on the “bad” column?  Excessive caffeine consumption.  It flowed
effortlessly from there: snacking out of boredom, clicking zombie-like
through others’ Facebook pictures, all-nighters, anxious speculation
about post-graduation plans, gossipy sociability, self-flagellating over
a disappointing test score…


The “good”
list wrote itself: writing in my journal, hosting dance and tea parties
in my dorm room, short bursts of efficient studying, religious services,
cooking, physical affection, deep breaths, my little sister, cat naps…

back and looking at my inventory, I was puzzled as to why I would ever
choose to consume any of the items on the “bad” list, which stood before
me as a kind of confession.  The good list, on the other hand, was an
invitation.  It offered me a wellspring of resources for sustainable
energy and peaceful rest.  Why would I ever not choose that?

Sometimes, I
think, in the craziness of our daily lives, it helps to remember that,
while there is a lot we cannot control, there is also a lot we can. 
Pressures and impulses to consume mindlessly or to slip into destructive
behaviors need not be viewed as insurmountable obstacles, but merely as
the berries best avoided.  And on the flip side of that coin: a garden
of sweet fruit ripe for the picking.


(image via:

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  • Valerie

    This is great, Marisa! I’m making my good/bad list ASAP. Thanks!

  • Rob

    Isn’t it amazing how we have the control to choose?! So many of us live on “automatic pilot” thinking we are victims and feeling overwhelmed and sorry for ourselves. Marysa in this short blog entry you have captured such an important message! Thank you for reminding us all that we can redirect ourselves when we loose site of what we really want and how easy it is to get back in the driver’s seat!!

  • Diane

    Marysa – Reading this hit home and made me question a few poison berries that I’ve been consuming. Thanks for the gentle reminder that it’s not too late to adjust my “diet.”

  • Annapurna Moffatt

    So true.

  • Carly Smoler

    I am a college student, also, and I feel so inspired from this to start my very own journal. I think I’ll go out and buy one right now, just so that I can puke up all my poison berries and cleanse my soul. Thank you Maryssa…you are an amazing young woman and I want you to be my mentor and role model. Do you have your own personal blog? I would love to read more by you.

  • Susan

    It’s so simple when I read it, yet often so difficult to implement!
    I will try harder.

  • Kristen

    I had no idea you were interested in spiritual journalism! This is wonderfully inspiring and a joy to read. It all seems so easy, but rather hard to apply sometime. We forget that we don’t HAVE to go on facebook and waste 2 hours on it. We could read a book or go for a bike ride or learn something new! :) Thanks for the friendly reminder!
    P.S. This was written so well. Keep up the good work Marysa.

  • Mindy

    Hi Marysa,
    Well done! Maybe the trick is finding supportive people and places. It can be a real challenge to keep making healthy choices.

  • iris rosen

    This is like a checkbook with debits and credits, a checkbook of your life. A very good way of keeping track and certainly worth trying.

  • Brigid-Ann

    So true… It really makes you stop and think about our choices in life.

  • Emilie Sheren

    Enjoyed reading your beautifully written article. Your words of wisdom can be applied, not only to the young, but, to the young at heart. We can list on the good side of our journal all that we have to be thankful for, especially during trying times.

  • Elissa Epstein

    I was truly inspired by your article, made me stop and think and honestly look at what is important and what is not in these trying times. Thank you!

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