With this upcoming meditation assignment I’m hoping I will become a more relaxed and positive person. The app that I hope I can use is called Dare. 

I might be more biased in choosing this app because I have used it before and I already pay for the premium membership, but after exploring the guided meditations section I still think it’s the right fit for me. I’ve found it to be very helpful during times where I felt really stressed or anxious and my mood changed completely after listening to a recording, so I think it’s perfect that I also realized they have a section for guided meditations. I find the person’s voice very soothing, so I know I can handle these guided meditations that are around 20-29mins. I also like that I can journal everyday if I wanted to on the app. There are even other topics I can browse if I am going through something one day and want to listen to other clips. In the future however I do know I will need to use a different app if I want to listen to more guided meditations than the 20 they offer here, these will only last me for our two week project. I plan on just listening to each one in order. These guided meditations are all found under the Guided Meditations folder.













The other apps I had downloaded and gave a try were Calm
( and MyLife ( & With Calm I do like that they ask specific questions to personalize your experience but a few things I wanted to try out I would need to have a premium subscription. On MyLife there was no specific section for guided meditations, but they did have a handful meditations for certain topics. I noticed that there was an option for a male or female narrator before playing each audio recording. The app even includes a daily check in, which also tells you what you should try to listen to based on your logged emotion, and it lets you track how you feel before meditating and after meditating. If I couldn’t use the Dare app for this 2week meditation assignment, I would rather give MyLife a try.

During the two weeks, I plan on just meditating every night before bed.

Pandemic Processing

Ever since covid was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization last March, life hasn’t been the same for anyone. I know when I first heard the news I was excited for the  switch from traveling to school four days a week to just attending class from my laptop at home. I didn’t really understand the seriousness of the pandemic for the first few days. The week everything shut down also happened to be the same week as my dad’s birthday, and it was at that point when it hit me that life wouldn’t go back to how it was for a while. My stepmom, siblings, and I had planned to go to the Kalahari Waterpark that week, but I quickly found myself unable to go to my dad’s and I no longer visited any other family members, friends, or did any outdoor activities. During the first few months I was a complete homebody and went out only when necessary. This is something I still do til this day, but I ‘ve since included having regular walks so I can at least see other people outside and feel some sort of normalcy. 

What has helped me cope the most during this difficult time is just always staying in touch with my loved ones. There were and still are many times where it’s hard to stay positive during a time like this, especially when you hear everything that is happening on the news. I don’t think anyone has fully adjusted to how we’re living right now, but the app Dare has helped me whenever I felt my lowest. The times I feel anxious about things or stressed or I get too overwhelmed, I just listen to one of the recordings and can instantly feel my mind at ease. This app also allows you to journal and track your mood daily. 

A few other habits I’ve picked up during this past year are working out from home, baking, cooking, having movie nights, and just finding time to read. I’ve been using this time to strengthen my relationship with my family as well as the relationship with myself. We do things like watching shows or movies every weekend, or we play board games. We also try to order out at least once or twice a week in order to support the small restaurants around our neighborhood. I always make sure to check up on the people I don’t get to see anymore and I’ve been a lot more on top of my school work since it can be easier to get distracted at home. Overall this pandemic has opened my eyes to the many things that are happening in this country and around the world, and it has forced me to face the reality that certain things are out of my control. You can’t possibly prepare for everything. The only thing we can all do now is take care of ourselves as best as we can, and try to push forward in hopes that things will get back to normal soon. 

Class Notes (3/9)

  • 7 Habits
  • mindfulness- being aware
  • character ethic (principles) vs. personality ethic (adjusting your attitude rather than changing the core)
  • superficial-on the surface
  • perception- how one views the world
  • subjective- bias; partial
  • objective- factual


  • pg. 31- paradigm (Greek origin) means a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference
  • free writing prompt:

-pg. 36 “If ten seconds can have that kind of impact on the way we see things, what about the conditioning of a lifetime?”

  • pg. 42 “Principles are not practices”
  • pg. 43 “Principles are not values”
  • the goal of the book is to make our map closely align with the laws in order to live better lives
  • Covey has an inside-out approach
  • inside-out means to start first with self


  • a habit is something you do consistently, unconsciously
  • pg. 55 Covey defines habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire
  • write a a habit you have tried to implement
  • write a habit you have tried to break


  • dependence- depending on someone else
  • independence- being able to take care of yourself
  • Covey’s end goal is interdependence- “we”
  • first 3 habits are private victories


  • free writing prompt:

-pg. 96 “It is inspiring to realize that in choosing our response to circumstances, we powerfully affect our circumstance. when we change one part of the chemical formula, we change the nature of the results”

-respond to this quote

think of how Covey’s framework relates to Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret for Thursday’s class

  •  do People’s Choice by 9am, Thursday (3/11)
  • review Habit 1: Be Proactive (pgs. 73-101) for class discussion this Thursday


Self-care to me is being able to just do things for yourself (benefitting to you) and doing any activity that will bring you more happiness. I think there are many ways to describe what self-care is but everyone generally understands it to be taking care of yourself in some way. This past weekend I made sure to do as many upcoming assignments as I could, and was able to get a majority of them done by Saturday afternoon. I used the rest of that afternoon and Sunday doing things that made me happy and I also made time for my family.

On Saturday I had woken up around 10am, got ready, had my usual cup of coffee, and started doing homework. After finishing my homework, I decided to have a wash day and also did my laundry. On Sunday I woke up around 11am, got ready, had my coffee, and watched reruns of my favorite sitcom throughout the day. Later that night me and my family combined our “game  night” and “movie night”. We decided to play a long, and stressful round of Monopoly and ordered pizza to watch Invisible Man afterwards. My Monday was pretty relaxed because the only assignment I had left to do was for this class, and my only class for the day is at 4pm.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

When reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, I found myself mostly comparing it to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The front matter had many positive reviews, but none were left by experts, as seen with Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book. What stood out to me the most was seeing well-known figures like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney leaving a review (Covey 2-4). I believe this best shows how the author, Stephen R. Covey, uses ethos to appeal to the audience. If the reader recognizes that the person leaving a review is successful and famous, they’ll want to see how this book has helped them.

Another similarity with The Secret is when asked by Jim Collins how he [Covey] came up with the ideas in the book, he said he didn’t. Covey’s principles are “natural laws” that had been around long before him. All he did was put them together. “He did not seek credit for the principles; he sought to teach the principles, to make them accessible. He saw creating the 7 Habits not primarily as a means to his own success, but as an act of service” (Collins 29). In her own book, Byrne points out that other individuals have known the secret and withheld it for years, but that she’s the one who will share this simple secret with everyone else. Covey just like Byrne, attributes the knowledge everyone will have access to to himself. They both try to point out to the readers that these aren’t new ideas and so you should take their word for it.

The 7 habits that Covey discusses in the book are:

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive 
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First
  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  • Habit 6: Synergize
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Throughout the rest of the book you see many examples/stories, some being the author’s own experiences. As Jim Collins states, “he made the ideas even more accessible by using personal life-struggles and stories- raising children, building a marriage, dealing with friends…” (30-31). Here the author is using pathos to seem more relatable to the reader.

Of the three self-help texts we’ve read I think Samuel Smiles had the best advice of daily application and perseverance. When taking the time to understand it, his message is clear. Through the examples of all the failures of now well-known individuals, we come to understand that things don’t come so easy to many people. He also advises us to have the right models to look up to. Stephen R. Covey has a strong emphasis of building character in this text but the ideas were repetitive throughout. The book could’ve been a lot shorter for what he was trying to say. And lastly, Byrne’s text is all about the law of attraction. To her, if you want something, you need to have predominant thoughts about it, visualize and feel it, and you can’t have any feelings of doubt.  Putting out negative thoughts only attracts more of it. That text was the most unrealistic.


Reading Response #2

Self-Help by Samuel Smiles was a somewhat difficult read to me because of the time period it was published in.  There were many unfamiliar words that were used that made me lose Smiles’ train of thought, though I wrote them down in my annotations. And some of the points seemed all over the place, while others were repeated just as The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes.  The main ideas I got from reading these three chapters is that 1) being patient and actually working towards your goals will pay off, 2) anything someone else does you can do too, and 3) the home environment we grow up in shapes our lives.

In Chapter I:  Self-Help –National and Individual, Smiles states we are where we are now through the thinking and actions of men. He pushes the idea that you don’t necessarily need to be a genius in order to do great work. To become successful in something you just need to push yourself and keep working at it. He kept repeating the idea that “a man perfects himself by work more than reading” (Smiles 22). And that the greatest contributors we know to science, literature, and art have mainly come from poor and humble beginnings– some with not much of an education. Smiles believes it is the difficulties these people have faced that have helped them fuel their work (Smiles 22-23).  Outside of academics, what we do in our daily lives also plays a part in how successful we are.

In Chapter IV:  Application and Perseverance, Smiles directly talks about the genius being.  He says genius can be defined only as common sense intensified (Smiles 91). These individuals constantly work on the same ideas in order to fully grasp it, but they are also susceptible to their own share of hardships as anyone else is. This can be anything from having your years work of calculations being accidentally caught on fire like Isaac Newton or finding only bits and pieces of your 200 drawings because Norwegian rats chewed through them like John Audubon had (Smiles 96-97). Although frustrating, if they had given up at those points we wouldn’t see the hand they had in science and art respectively today. “To know how to wait is the great secret to success” (De Maistre 94). Another important idea in this chapter is “any man can do what any other man has done” (Dr. Young 96).

The extra chapter I chose to read was Chapter XII:  Examples –Models.  This chapter focuses again on how action will get you to where you want to be, but also how this is instilled in us as children, and how we are able to continue this cycle in our adult life. When we were younger we did many things because we saw the adults in our lives doing it.  Seeing things leaves more of an impression than hearing and reading. We have always been led by example. As adults we need to surround ourselves with others just like us, or that are “better” than us.  And we need to keep in mind that we are better off alone rather than be in bad company. Smiles says “good rules may do much, but good models far more; for in the latter we have instruction in action” (307).

I agree with this idea of surrounding yourself with like people because with them you won’t find that you are deterring from any goals you have set to achieve. You will also have others that will inspire you and motivate you to keep pushing forward when things get tough. Overall I believe this text was better than The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes because it’s more realistic and can be seen as relatable. The author Samuel Smiles is basically trying to push people to do what they want to do. He tells the stories of others so you won’t feel alone and he doesn’t make any promises that are out of reach.

Class Notes


*In class free writing prompt:

  • think of something you want/ desire and think of how you could get it
  • (think of how this prompt relates to The Secret)
  • actualize- make real

*The “secret” is the law of attraction

  • law of attraction- whatever you put out into the world you will attract
  • thoughts become things– “your thoughts hold power” as Reem stated
  • reductive- reducing things/ oversimplifying; making things black & white
  • generic (adjective of genre)
  • conventions- things we usually do

Self-help texts are meant to help the individual self

  • means you need to identify the problem and then it can be remediated
  • remediate- to fix something

The solution is promised by the authors of self-help texts but what gives them the authority?

  • can either be “science” or expert testimonials as seen in The Secret
  • testimonials- attesting that something works


  • logos- use of logic/analysis to persuade the audience
  • pathos- use of emotions to persuade the audience
  • ethos- use of credibility to persuade the audience

*every text uses at least one of these^

  • credible- you are believable; a trusted source
  • generalization- when you take a particular example and make it the case for everyone
  • implicit- indirect
  • explicit- direct
  • paratext- text that surrounds the main text — includes the epigraph; this can be the front of a book, back of a book, and quotes used in a book
  • epigraph- quote at the beginning of the text
  • endorsement- a form of support or approval


  • Byrne claims expertise through personal narratives/ experiences and through older sources (eg: The Emerald Tablet)
  • The Secret is dedicated to you (the reader)– this shows benevolence; draws the reader into the book

***Homework– catch up on any readings and do the People’s Choice post before the next class on 2/11

***Make sure to read the Biographies section of The Secret

*Class notes for 2/11 will be done by Reem Saleh

The Secret

In the self-help book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, Byrne teaches us that the way to achieve the things we really want in life is through the law of attraction.  The law of attraction is the secret to attaining the things we desire. Byrne also explains that through the law of attraction we already are where we are now.  This concept works simply through our thoughts.  Our thoughts are magnetic (they attract what we think) and they constantly attract new frequencies.  She gives us the example of being wealthy.  If you want to become wealthy you need to have predominant thoughts of wealth, you need to visualize and feel that wealth, and you can’t have feelings of doubt.  Most people go about this the wrong way and think about the things they don’t want.  The universe doesn’t understand words like “don’t”, “not”, or “no” (Byrne 14).  Putting out of the thought of something negative only attracts more of it.  Another problem some people face is that they fear loss of wealth once they have it which does lead to that loss.

Byrne states that the feelings you have are important because they tell you what you are truly thinking, and these feelings are your guides to putting your thoughts back on the right track.  A key strategy to change a bad thought to a good one quickly is through your secret shifters.  Your secret shifters can be anything that you know will instantly change your mood to a better one like a certain memory or a favorite song.  Having more than one is important in case one of them doesn’t do the trick.  Learning how to meditate also helps clear your mind of bad thoughts.

According to Byrne the steps to the secret are 1) asking and 2) believing.  You don’t need to ask questions like how– the universe will just provide.  The question of how displays lack of belief.  If any action is needed it will be asked of you in a clear way.  Being thankful for the things you have now is also important as it helps to shift your energy.  Another thing to be mindful of is if something goes wrong at some point throughout your day, at night replay those events the way you wanted them to go and you will be putting out a more positive frequency. 

The extra chapter I chose to read is titled “The Secret to Money” (found on pages 95-112).  I chose this one just because I am a bad saver and wanted to see if there were any tips specifically for that, and because I am currently unemployed and wanted to see what would be discussed.  In this chapter Byrne states that you have to shift your thoughts from lack-of-money to more-than-enough money (Byrne 99).  Not having enough is caused by mentally blocking the flow of money from coming to you.  First you need to be content with what you already have and understand that your source of money doesn’t need to just be your job.  You also need to start saying you can afford things and give back when you can (not sacrifice).  According to Byrne, giving back shows that you have plenty and so the flow will be reciprocated back.

Personally when I read these few chapters of The Secret, I didn’t pick up on anything that sounded out of the ordinary.  The main message was just sort of repeated throughout the book.  I have heard of manifesting before (this is what the law of attraction sounds like to me) and although I’ve never tried it, it does seem intriguing because I have had friends tell me that it’s worked for them.  But I believe that action on one’s part is needed in order to attain the things in this book.  I think this may help people become more positive individuals which is a good thing and to some extent thinking more positively does bring back good energy/karma, but just counting on things to come to you instead of doing things to get there may slow your progression.  Byrne does state that there can be signs from the universe when action is needed but to me these can just be regular instances that were going to happen because of something you have done.

Crystal Pichardo Introduction



(Me at 2 years old in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)

My name is Crystal Pichardo.  I am 21 years old, born in New York city, and I’m of Hispanic (Dominican) descent.  

When I first applied to college I had no idea what to major in, let alone what career choice to purse, so I just settled with Liberal Arts. Even though I am currently unemployed, I have always been interested in jobs that allows for interacting with others or helping them with their problems.  Once I’m finished with my major’s requirements I plan on applying to the radiology program here at City Tech, and hopefully become a radiology tech in the near future.

A few of my interests include watching my favorite shows when I’m free like The Challenge, Handmaid’s Tale, You, and Bob’s Burgers to name a few.  Some of my favorite movies are Superbad, 30mins or Less, and Get Out.  And I openly listen to all genres of music– so I don’t judge anyone’s music taste.  My top 5 artists (in no specific ranking) would  include the Beatles, Kid Cudi, James Blake, Homeshake, and Sade.  I don’t read as much as I used to before but my favorite playwrights and plays are Arthur Miller (All My Sons), Eugene O’Neil (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), and Tennessee Williams (A Street Car Named Desire).

Before the pandemic, I would go to the gym a few times a week but I’ve since just switched to working out at home.  Some activities I also enjoyed include rollerskating, going to movie theaters/restaurants/museums, planning trips, and just hanging out with friends and family whenever I wanted to.

Since my freshman year of high school, English was always one of my favorite subjects.  This was mainly because I always ended up with the nicest teachers and I also loved all the novels we had to read and discuss.  As a writer,  my strength is in how descriptive I can be and that I am able to get my arguments across.  My weakness would be procrastinating and getting too detailed sometimes. As a reader, my strength is in paying attention to details and my weakness can sometimes be reading too fast and not fully enjoying a novel.  And as a thinker, my strength is in comprehending the message of a story.  My weakness is overthinking.

Before this class I’ve never had to use OpenLab but I have had classes on Zoom last semester.  I joined this course because it seemed the most interesting even though I don’t know what it entails.  I believe the purpose of this course is to help us each become better writers, readers, and thinkers through different assignments.   And I hope that by the end of this semester I become a better writer and speaker than I am today.