By Jamie Wunning

When evaluating how you feel in the present, be sure to question whether your heart feels full.

Do you know that feeling when your brain stalls because you are forced to be present?

Instead of asking the typical “How are you?” a friend of mine asked, “How is your heart?” I had never been asked this before, but it struck a chord.

My answer was at first an accumulation of activities recapping what I was working on at the time and answering in the standard, social contract way, focusing on what we are doing instead of how we are feeling. But he asked again, “No, how is your heart?” I took a moment to reflect.

My heart was working hard, but it was full. 

My heart was full of a sense of accomplishment that I had finished another successful week of college; going to class, finishing assignments, making progress on my senior capstone film, working with local nonprofits, and managing club events. Life as a college student is stressful and it was important to take a moment to reflect on all that the week had to offer.

My heart was full of light as I worked on projects with an organization whose core mission is to brighten Peoria through the healing power of the arts. Art is not just a hobby or a career, it is a safe place to express emotion. And by providing artistic opportunities to those with limited resources, we are able to provide a foundation that can support healing and growth in our community. But it takes strong, hardworking, creative, passionate, and positive people to accomplish this goal. Working with this inspiring team on projects having a direct impact on the community fills my heart more than I could have ever imagined.

My heart was also full of pride for the progress Giving Voice has made. I have been connected to passionate creators who continue to inspire me with their monthly article and illustration submissions. The magazine is hard work, but the creative energy I gain from reading a new article and seeing the words pop off the page as I conceptualize the design, is invigorating. Making the magazine new and fresh every month is very important to showcase the student’s work. Students are faced with issues we are only spectators to, in a world that is rapidly changing. Having an outlet for students to voice their perspective and for adults to listen allows for community collaboration that will help change our world for the better.

In a world focused on “doing” instead of “being” it can be difficult to stop and reflect. How often do we ask ourselves if the activities we are doing are healthy for our being? I am very lucky to be involved in meaningful projects with dedicated people. My work makes me happy, but what makes me even happier is being able to share this with my incredible friends, family, and coworkers. The people you surround yourself with have a direct impact on your heart. Feeling supported, encouraged, and inspired by these core groups is what pushes me to keep working harder. 

Breaking the cycle of everyday life and being present in our own world is hard. Next time you see a friend, I challenge you to break the social norm and ask them to dive deeper. It is important to take moments to reflect on our health: inside and out.

No matter what you do, make sure your heart is full.

About Jamie Wunning

Jamie Wunning, a senior attending Bradley University, has been an intern for Big Picture Initiative since April of 2020, and serves as the art director for Giving Voice. She is a student in Bradley’s highly recognized Interactive Media department majoring in Animation with a minor in User Experience Design. As a member of Bradley’s Honor’s program, Jamie strives for academic excellence. Along with interning with Big Picture, Jamie is the media specialist at ART Inc. At Bradley, Jamie serves as the President of Adventure Club, Digital Arts Team, and is the social media chair for Bradley’s NERF Club. She is also a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success, Bradley’s Basketball band, and Rock Climbing Club. Jamie is passionate about creating art for others in the form of animation, video editing, traditional art, photography, design, and any other way she can.

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