Fifth and Final Day


Wow, are my five days already up? As difficult as things seemed at the beginning, the days sure have flown by. This might just be the weekend talking, but I’m pretty sure things are looking up for me and my Integrity.

Before we conclude, it’s time for the normal business.


  1. Say what I mean and mean what I say. (Even in response to “Hi, how are you today?”)
  2. Do what I love to be who I am. (Run and practice cello daily)
  3. Be an honest Christian person. (Strive to rise above gossip and genuinely put others before myself.)

1.  Say what I mean

Today, I was excited, and I let everyone know it. ⇑ I always feel pumped on football game days, but Homecoming is the best. I got to learn what it meant here on a college campus and how that differed from my high school experience. Mainly, less dancing, more alums. Parties were also in full swing. However, after the game I turned to my friends and said “Honestly, I’m beat. Do you guys just want to hang out in the dorm?”

“Oh my gosh, yes!” they said. We had a marvelous time chatting and listening to music in their dorm room. Score for honesty!

2. Do what I love to be who I am.

Apparently I am a procrastinator first. Not a runner. Not a cellist. First on my line of characteristics on job applications should be procrastinator. Although I’m not really sure that would work too well for employment sake.

I plucked my cello a bit but with the football game, my heart just wasn’t in it to play today. Still, I made sure to at least hug my cello for a few minutes before bed. (That’s musician lingo for practice a little bit. But you can think what you want.) 

My activity today? It seems I am a professional spectator. Other than running around hooting, hollering and whooping like a madman that “We crushed the Pipers! We crushed the Pipers!” running was not on the agenda. Χ

3. Be an honest Christian person

I’m pretty sure I need to go to mass tonight more than I realized yesterday. If swearing alone merited it, I’d need to go to daily mass from now on. A form of gossip known as “smack talking” the opponent is a mandatory spectator sport.  Χ

However, I noticed I have become genuinely more interested in learning about other people in daily conversation than telling about myself.  The trick is now to remember it.  I send little texts to myself to remind me. “Jacob likes the song ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’.” “Maria likes Alice in Wonderland.” “Leah’s favorite animal is a bunny.” I hope to use these notes for further gift ideas and to foster more discussions in the future. This is all about connection.

So, today’s tally is… 2: 

So what does this all mean?

Throughout this assignment, I have been asking myself what I’m actually learning about matching my words to my actions. Some of my thoughts had me going down theological rabbit holes, so I will sum up my insights below.

  • It’s OK to be polite and lie a bit when someone casually asks you “how’s it going?” Just be sure to know if the person actually wants to talk or that they actually care before giving any other response than “Good, how about you?”
  • Being honest with others and myself has made me more mindful of what I want and what others want too. The trick has been knowing when to stand up for myself and when to let it slide.
  • Daily habituation of practicing what I claim I’m devoted to is very difficult but one of the most important lessons I need to instill. If I say I am a musician, I need to play music. If I say I am an athlete, I need to be active. It’s knowing when to maintain these practices and when life actually needs takes priority that I find out who I am.


This life is not a race, it’s a marathon with no end in sight. All I can do is be the most honest person I can and to keep striving for greatness. Not perfection. Just to be a great me.

This is Ryan, signing off.

gentle smile goodbye



“The ants go marching four by four…” Day Four

Day four is so done.


Some highlights from my day: IT’S FRIDAY.


I bought A SHIRT.


  1. Say what I mean and mean what I say. (Even in response to “Hi, how are you today?”)
  2. Do what I love to be who I am. (Run and practice cello daily)
  3. Be an honest Christian person. (Strive to rise above gossip and genuinely put others before myself.)

1.  Say what I mean

Today was much better than yesterday. I got a full night’s sleep under my belt, which definitely helped.

My school assignments and my friends turned to me for leadership in discussion, which meant I had plenty of time to discuss what I felt was working in small group discussions and what was not. Also, I stood my ground and spoke up when I thought someone else’s idea was terrible. In a nice, firm, Minnesota way. 

(That means passive aggressive)
2. Do what I love to be who I am.
Playing cello yesterday definitely had a real impact on my mood today. Creative expression helps the mind in ways I’m not qualified to describe, but I know that small act of creation had me floating on a whole different plane. 
I felt even better coming out of the practice room today. 
However, I did not run today. Χ
Wait! Before you cast me off the proverbial island, I exchanged running for a long bike ride around campus with friends.
There. See?
Unfortunately, I can’t give myself any integrity points for biking. My system just doesn’t work that way.
ah...yeah sigh
Still, I have to believe that the intent on staying active to stay healthy so that I can have more days to work on my integrity has to count for something in the long run.
3. Be an honest Christian person.  
Today, I gossiped. Χ  Right now it feels a bit like speaking through a confessional, but this blog is keeping me honest.
The worst part is that I hardly even realized I was doing it because the gossip wasn’t all that good. It had something to do with asking one of my Sophomore RA friends about the write-up in another Freshman residence hall. Someone I didn’t even know doing something my friend couldn’t talk about with consequences that had yet to be determined. 
I should probably go to church tomorrow on top of Sunday mass. 
Still, I made sure to hold doors, sought to tell the truth, and respected other people. Even our Homecoming football rivals. 
Tonight, I have tickets to a concert on campus. The artist Andy Grammer is performing, and I can’t wait to go. In order to keep myself as myself, I promise not to stay out too late. That’s because today’s tally is… 2:again. Guess I didn’t do much better today than yesterday. That means running tomorrow AND cello. With the football game, I will totally have to own my schedule.
This is Ryan, signing off.

Have I Earned it Yet? Day Three

Day three is accomplished.


If I thought yesterday was tough, boy was today rough. Looking at my agenda, I again only had time to run in the morning. After that, I realized I had two essays to edit, forty pages of reading and my three-hour class today would focus on Movement. As in perpetual movement. As in don’t stop moving for three hours.


Well, let’s get to it, shall we?

  1. Say what I mean and mean what I say. (Even in response to “Hi, how are you today?”)

  2. Do what I love to be who I am. (Run and practice cello daily)
  3. Be an honest Christian person. (Strive to rise above gossip and genuinely put others before myself.)


1. Say what I mean.

This one was more difficult today. I found myself mindlessly smiling and greeting people when I really wasn’t feeling so great. Between muscle cramps and a restless night’s sleep, I wondered how I’d make it through the day. However, I also realized that people don’t like to hear complaints. They’re really only being polite when they ask how you’re doing. It is important to maintain this stability in everyday life. Χ

I also found I haven’t really been discussing some of my geeky interests with my new college friends. It happened when I spotted a book on my friend’s floor, under a myriad of papers and sundries. “Oh, that’s a great book!” I said.

“You know about the Left Behind series?” she asked.

“Of course I do!” I’d devoured them throughout high school. They were a staple in my routine. Yet, how was my friend to know this? I’d never mentioned this favorite of mine in college. In this small aspect, I wasn’t being true to me. This is something I’m going to work on.  Χ

2. Do what I love to be who I am.

 I made sure to run this morning, ↑ except instead of the trail, I hit the treadmill. Infinitely less windy. There are even little TVs hooked up to the machines here at the campus gym to keep me going till the end of the program. However, I did find I missed out seeing the fall foliage and the little woodland creatures stirring early in the morning. There was something about only hearing my heartbeat and the clap-clap-clap of my feet on the pavement that really cleared my mind.


I also practiced cello today. ↑ I needed it to vent after the day’s frustration in class. I picked up some of my old concertos and sonatas but ended up mostly improvising some angry scales and bow strokes. I should be careful. At this rate, I’ll need to re-hair my bow by fall break!


 3. Be an honest Christian person.

Putting others before myself was pretty necessary today. I really didn’t want to talk about my frustration with my teachers or my homework load since I’d mostly brought them on myself. However, being mindful to listen more to others than myself kept my spirits up. 

I found myself looking to other Christians as role models for the day. I had lunch with a friend of mine from church who also goes to school here. He is a Sophomore and a wonderful person. One thing, however, is that he doesn’t swear and doesn’t like to hear other people swear. I suppose there are a few passages in the Bible about swearing and lewd language, but by not swearing, is this making him a better Christian? I realize it isn’t a competition, but some days a little blasphemy goes a long way. I didn’t really enjoy it when he would halt the conversation whenever a swear word slipped out.

Aside from that, gossiping was the furthest thing from my mind today. Some of my friends were discussing classwork which turned to classmates which turned into exciting, somewhat explicit stories from home. Stuck in the same room with them, I tried to tune it out. ↑

lalala im not listening

 So, today’s tally is…

2: 4

I can do better tomorrow.

This is Ryan, signing off.


And on the Second Day

The day after making a commitment to change is probably one of the hardest days. EVER. Suddenly all my good ideas seem taxing, like chores. I realized this was probably it involved a lot of self-reflection and self-criticism, which no one likes to dwell on.

Yet, I find my motivation in online video clips and the mandatory day-to-day grind of a Wednesday morning.

In order to make sure everything got done, I made a list. I adore to-do lists, as they help me visualize the tasks of the day and the secret giddiness I feel crossing them out.

Doing this is victorious, as if to say “Ha ha! I win! I cross you out of existence! I am the champion! *thunderous applause*”


Wednesdays are tough.


  1. Say what I mean and mean what I say. (Even in response to “Hi, how are you today?”)
  2. Do what I love to be who I am. (Run and practice cello daily)
  3. Be an honest Christian person. (Strive to rise above gossip and genuinely put others before myself.)


Although my day did not chronologically follow the homework assignment, for sake of argument, I will evaluate my day according to the tasks I set before myself.

1. Say what I mean.

This task was fairly straightforward but it involved more restraint than it did freedom to create “a better me”. I can’t count how many times I responded with “I’m good, how about you?”, but I can’t say it wasn’t an entirely false statement. My day did go pretty well. I am in fairly good health. My family is not currently under duress. The only major stressor is homework.

The homework though…ah, yes, homework. It is piling up faster than I can accomplish it. I will have to get right back to it after posting this.


I did, however, find myself editing my comments before I made them.  Once it saved me from speaking, what I realized later, would have been a politically incorrect. This is not necessarily a negative thing, as carefully choosing words before you speak them is in itself a kind of nameless virtue. Later, I found myself staying better on task by not saying random stories or irrelevant comments. I plan to make further notice of this.

2.  Do what I love to be who I am. (Run and practice cello daily)

↑ I began today with a morning run. After creating the diary, I resolved that I should do this every morning. I found a trail around campus that suited me perfectly.

So, I mustered my groggy morning mind and hit the trail. I ended up actually running two miles, as I took a side-path to the trail by a happy accident.

Χ I did not end up practicing cello today, even though I really wished I could. Homework overran my free time and I had to let cello slide once more. I am a college student first.


I leafed through my sheet music and chord theory to make up for lost practice time.

3. Be an honest Christian person. (Strive to rise above gossip and genuinely put others before myself.)

While I wasn’t able to attend our special music and praise event tonight, Χ I believe I accomplished this task in my social realm.

↑ My roommate brought home some juicy gossip from her boyfriend’s school regarding “activities” in the resident hall bathrooms. She was promptly inclined to discuss it with her friends via video chat. I was promptly inclined to put headphones on.

In conversation, in the spirit of the first comment, I made sure to be mindful during discussions and talk about their lives and their concerns before my own, if at all. This really opened a gateway for discussion with a classmate of mine, who I learned was an avid fan of the band Avenged Sevenfold and was really upset that she couldn’t bring herself to listen to it here at college. She explained to me it was about self-discovery but she felt like she was losing a part of herself. That was the most engaging lunch discussion I’ve had in awhile.


So, to tally up the score, it looks like it is a fail-to-win ratio of  2:5 

I call that a pretty good day.

This is Ryan, signing off.