Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Rejuvenating Winter Break

With finals behind us and the holiday season before us, it’s time to unwind! The holiday season is perhaps the best time of year, but it can also be some of the most stressful: last minute gifts, delayed flights, stormy weather…. You get the picture, but now that you’re home, cherish the times you have while you’re there. And use the time to de-stress, re-focus and rejuvenate yourself.

Here are 5 suggested ways to de-stress this holiday season:

  1. If you’re alone, typing away at your computer or scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed… STOP! Put your device down, take your hands away from the keys and walk away. Find someone, new or dear, in the area and start-up a conversation. It will help keep our eyes, mind, body and soul running.
  2. Home cooked meals are the best, but after all the eating we can start to feel tired and weary. Instead of potentially worrying about the weight you’re gaining or how much you ate, replace those thoughts with a plan to keep up your energy levels in simple ways. One quick idea is to drop to the floor and do 15 sit ups. Don’t say, I’ll do it tomorrow: sit ups are easy and can be done anywhere!
  3. Feel unproductive or unsure? Consider your goals for the coming semester. Get a blank piece of paper and write them all out. It’s important to get the thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Keeping those ideas cooped up can distract you from living in the present.
  4. Don’t feel empowered? Read beautiful quotes and stories online or in a book. They help you get in touch with your inner inspiration.
  5. Nothing’s seems to be going your way? The best cure is to sit completely still. Simply focus on breathing. Let the thoughts run through your mind and slowly tell yourself, “Right now. Today. Right Now. Today. Right Now.” By doing this you will start to reel yourself back to the core of this moment. Then, get up and go about your day refreshed and refocused!

Whichever tips you decide to undertake, always remember, “If you are unhappy, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Be present; it’ll be my gift to you! Have a beautiful holiday season. We’ll be back in 2013!

– Cynthia Hass, SMG 2015

Secret Snowflakes and Holiday Cheer

On December 1st, 2012, the ladies of the Harriet E. Richards Cooperative House celebrated the holiday season with a House Holiday Party.

In the week leading up to the party, each resident was given the name of another resident who they would secretly do nice things for throughout the week as their “Secret Snowflake.” Whether it was having your chore done for you or coming back to your room to find an unexpected gift from an anonymous house member, the last week of November was full of pleasant surprises and holiday spirit!

And on Saturday the 1st, it all came to a close with a day full of holiday cheer. In the morning, the members of the HER House E-board woke up bright and early to cook up some delicious food. While pancakes were being cooked and chocolate pastries were being prepared, the rest of the ladies spent their time dressing up the house. By the time breakfast was ready, the House had been transformed with Christmas decorations. As we all sat down to eat an amazing meal, there was even more excitement as we all watched the snowflakes falling outside. It seemed like the weather was almost perfectly timed.

After filling our stomachs and cleaning off our plates, all the girls came back up stairs to the foyer and took part in the exciting conclusion to the day – the opening of presents from one another’s Secret Snowflake! One by one the girls revealed their Secret Snowflake.

Cynthia Hass, SMG 2015, was especially excited for this portion of the day: she had her own roommate! “When I did things for Lili during the week, I thought for sure that she knew it was me!” Cynthia had decorated her own door and other parts of the House with dedications to her roommate, Lili Wondwossen, SAR 2014. Cynthia also explained the best part of the day was seeing Lili so touched and crying after finding out who her secret snowflake was.

Another House resident, Renée Gaillard, CAS 2014 explained during the gift opening, “I felt like you could really see how well we connected with each other during the Holiday Party.” Although the snow continued to fall outside on a cold winter day, it was clear that the warmth inside was the only thing felt by the residents of the HER House!

– Ashley Thompson, COM 2014

Alumnae Cook Night: Winter Respite

On Sunday, December 16, HER House alumnae from Classes 2006 through 2009 came together and prepared a hearty winter meal for House residents. HER House women were in the midst of finals preparation, and the meal seemed a welcome respite from the weight of exams and papers. The alumnae prepared a well-balanced menu, taking into account House tastes and dietary restrictions and collaborated with the House to shop for ingredients and celebrate the end of the semester – on a budget, of course! The menu included:

  • Crusty Bread
  • Winter Minestrone Soup
  • Rainbow Chopped Salad
  • Wilted Kale and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
  • Hazelnut Coffee Brownies

The wilted kale and sweet potato salad seemed the favorite of the evening; it was requested the recipe be posted on the HERAA website. It is now available on our recipes page for everyone’s enjoyment!

HERAA would particularly like to thank this semester’s House Steward, Diane Tang (CAS 2015) for coordinating the cook night, and Hilary Kehoe (ENG 2013), who served as cook’s assistant for the evening.

Alumnae interested in participating as cooks or just as diners are more than welcome to join next time – hopefully in the Spring semester! We’ll be sure to take pictures of all the food and merriment next time!

Celebrating Family

Despite the various ways one can celebrate, for many, the meaning of Thanksgiving walks hand-in-hand with the meaning of family. For me, this holiday has always meant family, fun and food! (And an academic break, of course.) Even if you took away the delicious buffet, I would be more than happy to just be with my family. Google Dictionary defines “family” as:

fam·i·ly/?fam(?)l?/: A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.

Though I frequently see Google as my best friend, I think it’s wrong this time. Family is more than just a household of children and parents. Family is love, a support system, a place to call home, a place to be yourself and is completely and utterly, yours. Whether it’s the typical American family, a mother and daughter, two partners or a group of friends, it is still a family.

Although most HER residents left Boston to share the holiday with family and/or friends and although we were all sad to leave a taste of this happiness, we still knew we were going home. Every time I’m in Boston, I call New York, “home,” and every time I’m in New York, I call Boston, “home.” Others may see that as a mistaken identity or geographical issue, but I know just what I mean. Home is where the heart is and as long as you’re around people you love, you’re home and with family.

The HER House family is a special kind of family. Where young women from all different backgrounds, beliefs, majors, passions, likes and dislikes can live under one roof and find common ground based on cooperative spirit. There’s not a day I am not thankful to enter through those black gates on Bay State Road and be greeted by the piano playing, conversations in the kitchen, studying in the dining room and the “hello”s and hugs all throughout the House. This is more than a household with 24 women, this is a family, and every day I’m with my family, I know I’m home, and I know it’s Thanksgiving. On behalf of everyone at the House and despite it’s belatedness, Happy Thanksgiving!

“No matter what we are, we are a family.”
– “Family” by Dreamgirls

– Renée Gaillard, CAS 2014