Another life update…

Several things have changed at Woodson – just in the time since I have graduated from high school (which wasn’t thattt long ago)…

  • Updated flooring
  • A big, heavy mat that the football guys use to practice rolls and tackling
  • Security cameras and fobs to unlock the outside doors
  • An intercom system
  • A second portable building for pre-K/K
  • New bell sounds (including funky dance music played when school dismisses)
  • Tutorial periods built into every morning and afternoon
  • New teachers, staff members and students (many in different rooms, too)

…but so many things are the same…

  • People still proudly wear black and gold.
  • The building still looks much like it always has on the outside, since being built in 1928.
  • We still call the our gyms the Old Gym and New Gym (though this is the New Gym’s 20th anniversary!).
  • There are dogs that everyone knows and loves, and we give them treats but also have to chase them off the football field during games at times.
  • You can turn to anyone for anything, and they will help you (Thanks to Mrs. Briles for teaching advice, Mrs. Matthiews for candy and Mrs. Lester for markers!).
  • We’re still a little family – just with a few different members – that works super hard, whether we are serving chili at Homecoming, driving bus routes after school, taking money at sporting events, decorating for school functions, counselling kids about love and life, spending our weekends and evenings at extracurricular functions, grading homework, making copies and lesson plans or researching new ways to present the correct information to students.

I ❤ Woodson ISD

I have been around education my entire life. My dad started out as a math teacher and head football and basketball coach then worked his way up to being principal and, eventually, superintendent. My mom has taught sixth grade, as well as family and consumer sciences, health and physical education classes. Almost all of this has been done at Woodson ISD, my second home. I started kindergarten there in 1997, as the “new” gym was being built on campus (right behind my house, since my family still lives in the school-owned, two-story house they moved into in 1991). I remember crying in Mrs. Bellah’s fourth grade classroom when my favorite childhood cat died. When 9/11 happened, my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Bundy, tried to explain to us what was going on. I graduated from WHS in 2009, after years of basketball, academic events, breakups and makeups and being taught everything from literature and exponents to lessons on how to be the best I can be and to bloom where I was planted.

Hook ‘Em

The University of Texas at Austin was my next stop for learning; as an 18 year old, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, so I started out in business, to be generic, realized that was not for me, began writing for The Daily Texan (one of the oldest and winningest college newspapers) and transferred into the school of communication, to study magazine journalism.

Adulthood

After graduating a semester early, I wasn’t in a school setting – but I was still learning! From 2012 to 2015, I had some amazing moments (started my own freelance marketing/writing business, attended New York Fashion Week, interviewed celebrities like Ryan Gosling and made many fun memories with friends and family) and some growing moments (like a quarter-life crisis, where I didn’t get a dream job – even with a degree from UT – so had to work six jobs and live paycheck to paycheck).

Back To Woodson

I heard that journalism was a dying art, but I was determined to make a living writing…but in the meantime, as a backup, I decided to get a teaching certificate. It seemed neat to pass my passion for writing and reading on to others, especially since I wasn’t finding that full-time magazine job I wanted. When I completed my training, there happened to be an English opening at a high school near me in Austin, so I applied and made it to the second round. When I didn’t get that, though, I heard that Woodson had an opening. I joked that I should apply…and then I did. I interviewed with the principal and teachers and was presented in front of the board and got the job! My at-the-time boyfriend, Tommy, and I picked up, left our friends and beloved ATX and moved to a small town so I could teach in an even smaller town.

My Thoughts On Teaching

Pros:

  • You do get to pass your passions on to others.
  • Your work schedule is nice, with long holiday and summer breaks (You still have to plan lessons and attend trainings – but it’s better than a 9-5 every.single.day.ever.).
  • I got to help with basketball.
  • I was surrounded by other creative and caring individuals.

Cons:

  • Not everyone loves writing and reading, but some people seem to love complaining about not loving it, which makes trying to get them to learn nearly impossible.
  • Even if you’re super organized like me, the preparation never ends, since there are state standards to adhere to and essays to grade and full lessons to plan…and some kids rush through assignments and some days bring substitute teachers, so you need back-up lessons…and some schools, such as the small WHS, need one teacher covering many areas, meaning planning for four different English levels + journalism + high school theater + junior high theater.

As said, I’ve always been around education, so I heard my parents’ stories of students and classes and TAAS/TAKS/STAAR and extracurriculars and inservice. I never thought I’d end up teaching, but I was SO excited to give back to Woodson, to share my knowledge and to use my experience/creativity/organization in the classroom and beyond.

However, here are some things people don’t realize…

  • People can be lazy and rude. Yes, different personalities and interests and people are what make our diverse world so neat. In a school setting, though, a certain level of effort and respect is expected. I know perfection is impossible – from anyone, in anything – but I was surprised at how many students seemed to not care about failing grades or bad attitudes. I know school can be challenging, and balancing activities + homework + life can be a lot; I was in this exact classroom not that long ago, though, and while several people failed tests and got d-hall (myself included, at times!), there was that level of effort/respect. We knew that we came to school to learn and work and study, so there was no point in complaining – just get it done! We joined the extracurricular activities we were interested in, and we showed up to practices and games, ready to work there, too, resulting in state championship football games and competitions/trips at Galveston and gold medals, blue ribbons and pride. This year’s volleyball team made it to the playoffs, and that’s the first time that any of these high school students have done that in anything; there are many factors that could play into this (tougher competition, changes in coaching staff, fewer players, etc.), but I have to wonder about the effort + success correlation.
  • Teaching is a lot of work. I don’t think many people realize the amount of behind-the-scenes details that go into this job – even someone like me, who saw Mom grade papers after the bell rang and had to wait on Dad to get home from practice/games/board meetings. The lovely STAAR test alone leads to certain things having to be taught to certain grades at certain times, all to try and pass this one test that keeps changing and getting harder. On top of that, there are normal concepts that each subject brings – such as making sure students understand fractions, commas, cells and the history of our country – and you have to find the textbook and worksheets and accompanying texts/papers and quizzes that go along with all of that. Finally, we are also responsible for instilling these young people with deeper lessons; there isn’t a state-issued list somewhere that says this, but a. students are sometimes with teachers more than their parents and b. at Woodson ISD specifically, we’re all taught character traits – like determination, honesty, punctuality and respect – and to “be the best we can be” (our school motto:).
  • Last but not least, Woodson’s population is only 296. There are less than 50 students in high school, and these students share a building with every grade, down to pre-K. Many of these kids are also bussed in from Graham and Breckenridge, as parents like having their children in more one-on-one settings and able to participate in more than one activity. As mentioned, with a smaller school and staff, your English teacher is also your UIL and OAP director and assistant basketball coach, and your principal and superintendent teach classes and coach teams, on top of all of their other responsibilities. This is how it’s always been, and for many years, Woodson had the same staff members, who were familiar with their jobs/roles and became family. Over the years, retirement and graduating children have brought in new, younger teachers – teachers who like starting out in smaller settings. Changes are going to happen in any school, and people move for numerous reasons. It can be said that Woodson is at a disadvantage, since we’re small and in the middle of nowhere and don’t have baseball. But we do have…
    • Exciting six-man football (State runners-up in 2008. State semi-finalists in 1980 & 2001. Quarterfinal champions & state runners-up in 1978 & 2007. Regional champions in 2006 & 2009. Bi- district champions in 1993, 1994, 1995 & 2000. District champions in 1957, 1960, 1967, 1973 & 1996. The boys’ teams saw success under Coach Gordon Thomas from 1992-2002, and under Coach Reece Walker from 2002-2008.)
    • A staff that hustles and cares (Do you know these people? You probably do, ha. They’re amazing.)
    • History (such as the town being named after J.O. Wood and his son, an impactful tornado, a railroad and a Japanese balloon bomb)
    • Awesome community members (and many are graduates of Woodson AND started booming businesses here – like Jones Trailer, BJB Transport and the Woodson Inn – where other current and ex-students work)
    • A high reputation (Woodson ISD was started by passionate people who hired other upstanding faculty members…members who helped make all the positive things mentioned in this very long piece possible…winning games and building a new gym and earning awards/praises from the state/surrounding schools and sending kiddos off to state competitions/top universities/high-paying jobs…and then possibly having them come back to spread some of that goodness around (i.e. Ashlee Sullivan, Kim Miller, Nanci Baxley, Melissa Vickers and Richard Sullivan).

Life Now

I don’t owe an explanation of why I came here, how I feel about it or what I will be doing now; but, as a writer, I wanted/needed to get all of this out. My now-husband, Tommy, is working to get job back in Austin – since we miss it terribly! – and my last day as a teacher at WHS was May 23. He actually fell in love with teaching when we were here, passed his content test with flying colors, spent the last year teaching at Olney and would love to be passing on his smarts to an ATX school. Since I started my own biz in 2012, I’ve kept that going on the side, and now it’s grown so much that I can write and tweet and blog and pitch publications all day, every day.

I loved being back at Woodson, and I look forward to continuing to give back to this amazing community, no matter where I end up or what I am doing. Thank YOU for helping to make Woodson so amazing, thank YOU for making the past two years so eventful, and thank YOU for taking even a tiny bit of inspiration from this and realizing that life is short, so we must bloom where we are planted and be the best we can be!

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make dresses appropriate + more fashion tips

I have had several bits of fashion insight to share, so I’m bundling them and sharing now, starting with…

BuzzFeed – my beloved BuzzFeed – recently did a long piece, full of detailed charts and diagrams, regarding fashion rules and tips, such as…

-Not all sizes are created equal: I remember watching What Not To Wear at a young age and hearing that all clothes should be tailored; it would be weird if we all could buy one thing and that thing fit us all correctly!

-Mixing and matching: Sure, there are some color combos that will forever look good together, for everyone. I’ve learned with my husband, though, that noticing these combos doesn’t come naturally. Plus, fashion is about expressing yourself, so feel free to boldly mix plaid and polka dots, emerald green and hot pink and denim on denim!

-Clothing silhouettes: I had a student – in theater class – say that no one wears poodle skirt-type skirts any more, and I mentioned A-line skirts…and she looked lost and confused. Know your types, AND know which ones look best on YOU!

-Formality: Wedding season is here, and I already have my semiformal, formal and beach attire ready – but always go a little dressier if you’re not sure. You wouldn’t want to show up in jeans and be the only one in denim…but in a dress, you can elevate it with heels and heavier makeup or dress it down with sneakers and a ponytail.

Fun Tip…Vintage = Made at least 20 years ago!

Now, for some tips on how to balance your wardrobe between appropriate and … fun (you know, how to wear bandeaus and crop tops and cutouts to work and school!)…

 

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Depending on your setting, this is a way to wear a bandea but still be somewhat covered; lucky for me, this could work for at a funky startup office or while covering a fashion event!

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The trick to wearing a crop top without baring too much skin is pairing it with a high-waisted skirt or pair of pants.

 

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Have a dress that’s not appropriate for school, the office or the weather? Layer, as seen here and below!

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There are numerous ways to add pieces under and/or over your clothing to make it more appropriate for where you are going or what the weather is like…Just experiment and make it work!

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Image result for leggings and shirts under dresses for schoolLove the white t-shirt under a silk cami look, especially with cool, casual denim | discovered by Katerina Iatridou

And here’s a tip for you, men, from The Art of Manliness:

I also love this guide on how to update your look (great for transitioning out of college into the professional/adult world!)…

The Five Brands I’m Gushing Over Currently

NUMBER ONE – KATE SPADE

Kate Spade got started by launching a clothing line in 1993, and she now runs a lifestyle empire, full of pink and polka dots. I have her dining accessories on my table and stationary on my desk…but I want more!

I recently stopped in at Barnes & Noble and had to pry myself away from loading classics and paperbacks and coloring books into my arms…but my eyes were most drawn to Kate Spade’s collection here: shimmering desk tools, pretty papers and pens and fun cups and mugs.

NUMBER TWO – ban.do

I actually think I fell in love with this brand at Barnes & Noble, too, but now, I live for their sparkly and witty Instagram posts…and their expressive earrings…and funky beauty products…and gaudy home decor…and playful bags. If you know me, you should know that these pink items totally speak to me.

NUMBER THREE – OH JOY!

Joy Cho came onto the scene in 2005, with a graphic design studio. These days, you can find her stuff at Target, whether you’re looking for quirky furniture, baby clothing or band aids. She has a whole rose gold section (much like the brands above) that I’m dying to acquire.

NUMBER FOUR – FURBISH STUDIO

I stumbled upon Furbish, a boutique known for bold and eclectic gifts and finds, when I was searching for a large, colorful purse. The products all have an exotic feeling – but in a modern and cool way that I adore. Plus – again…more pink!

NUMBER FIVE – SUGARFIX by BAUBLEBAR

Who doesn’t love BaubleBar? And who isn’t obsessed with Target? And who is always looking for exciting jewelry that’s also affordable? I know I am, and now, all my dreams have come true!

just 10 things

  1. WOODSON, TEXAS: I’m from this town of 296, where my dad is the superintendent of the one school, which my brother and I started going to in kindergarten; we both graduated from WHS – and I only had seven people in my class. My mom was my sixth grade teacher and still teaches there – and I teach there now, too. No, we didn’t ride horses to school (I don’t even own a pair of boots.), but yes, I love this safe and comfortable home.
  2. WRITING: I remember asking my parents to buy me a tablet to write stories in when I was so young that some of my peers couldn’t even write complete sentences yet. English was always my favorite class in school, and I created my school’s newspaper and started contributing to my county’s weekly paper. I went on to major in journalism and write for publications like Austin Home, New York Resident and Us Weekly and cover events such as SXSW and New York Fashion Week. See where I’m currently writing via my online portfolio!
  3. AUSTIN, TEXAS: I attended the University of Texas at Austin and can still hardly believe I graduated from such an esteemed school. Though I’m away from ATX right now, I’ll be back, because I love it all: Alamo Drafthouse, Cathedral of Junk, Spiderhouse, Greenbelt, The Domain, Kerby Lane, Toy Joy, SoCo, the Veloway – See a complete list of my faves here😉
  4. MOVIES: I’ve always said my favorites are “A Walk to Remember the Titans”, combining two that I love. My family and I loveee going to the theater (mainly for popcorn and previews, amiright?), and if a movie can freak me out (in a scary or mind-blowing way (like “Predestination”…WaTcH!), I love it even more.
  5. FASHION: I always joked that when I die, I want to be cremated and spread around a mall, because I can’t get enough of new trends, window displays, glossy magazines, fashion blogs, “Project Runway”, fashion boards on Pinterest and buying new accessories/outfits!
  6. TRAVEL: I am used to making 28-hour drives to different states and have visited over half of them – and maybe a third of the baseball parks in the U.S. The only places I’ve visited internationally are Cologne, Germany, and Playa del Carmen, Mexico (loved both…can’t wait to see morrre).
  7. CATS: I’ve probably owned about 75 cats, but right now, my husband and I are happily raising Catalina Crookshanks. I’ve also adopted a polar bear, and penguins = mine and Tommy’s spirit animals. Fourth fave animal = unicorn;)
  8. GLITTER: Everything is better with glitter (just look at this blog title and/or ask Ke$ha;)
  9. LOVE: I really really really do try to show love to all – why wouldn’t you? We’re all stuck on this rock together, so be nice/spread peace! Thankfully, it’s super easy to love my loved, because gawww, they’re amazing…like tooooo good to me.
  10. LIFE: Speaking of being on this rock together, remember that it’s all about balance and perspective and blooming where you’re planted and being the best you can be and breathing and finding your passion/sharing it with others and being you and laughing until you cry!
    • Balance: You will have amazing moments of triumph and happiness, as well as horrible moments of stress and sadness. Through it all, you can eat chocolate when you’re sad and happy and dream about the future while still making the most of the present. Everything in moderation, with your head on straight.
    • Perspective: When those sad moments occur, try try try to find the silver lining. Know that everyone deals with loss. And when you’re overjoyed, know that there’s a time for everything, and even good things must come to an end. ALSO, I say these mantras over and over, but I just decided to change this one to “bird’s-eye view”, so that they all start with “B”!
    • Bloom Where You’re Planted: How many times have I blogged about this? My high school English teacher drilled this into my brain, and now, I have it hung in my house and sneak it into my English lessons. You are where you are. Will you always be there? Probably not – since we’re always in a state of motion, with moves and career changes and marriage and etc. So wherever you are and wherever you end up, do your best in that very place.
      • ALSO, I’ve written a good deal about this state of motion: I used to say that life was all about waiting – We wait in lines and drive-thrus. We wait for our alarms to go off, our coffee to brew…for work to start and then be over…then wait until it’s time for dinner, bed and it all to start again.
      • Recently, however, I’ve been thinking that it’s all about change, too; my bff and I feel like we’re always…well…waiting for the next big thing! As we wait and move forward, we encounter these big life events, such as graduating college, finding a full-time gig, getting married, buying a house and having kids. I guess it isss exciting that there’s always something to look forward to…It just seems like the in-between (the “upside-down” I – and other “Stranger Things” fans – may call it) time is just…there – and this time of limbo just flies by!
      • So enjoy those little moments that do make you laugh until you cry, which can be filled with things as simple as going for a walk, stretching as you get out of bed, cuddling with your cat and this.
    • Be The  Best You Can Be: The Woodson ISD motto is a good one, and it’s simple (So why do we complicate things?): Be the best human you can be. Do your very best at every single thing you do. Period. Yay.

P.S. – Happy six-year dating anniversary to my husband, Thomas Wayne Baze. ❤

The YouTube Videos You Haveee To Watch

DYK…

YouTube was started by PayPal employees

The website was activated on Feb. 14, 2005

It was purchased by Google in 2006, the same year it won a “Person of the Year” award from TimeYouTube

1,300,000,000 people use the site

300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

Almost 5 billion videos are watched there daily

…according to this site…which is why I wanted to highlight and honor my favorite videos (and channels!) from perhaps the most popular website out there.

David Foster Wallace gave an amazing commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005, and this inspirational video explains it all in a way that will make you realize that life is short, that being happy is key, that pain happens, that “This Is Water“.

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This adorable little girl reacting to the “Jaws” theme song is all you need.

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One of the best scenes from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is when Dennis and Mac try to help Charlie make a dating profile; this animated version of it is possibly better than the original.

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The Sticky Buddy is a well-known made-for-TV product…and now, this dub is even more popular than the item itself.

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I think I was late to the YouTube game, because Salad Fingers is one of the first I remember even seeing (the first ever may have been “Old Greg” – ha).

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If you love stereotypes and workplace scenes set in the 90s, you’ll love Bigoted Bill!

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And lucky number seven is my favorite YouTube video of all time. It’s brilliant. It’s beautiful. It’ll blow your mind.

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Best Channels To Follow:

ShoeOnHead: An adorable feminist who tells it like it is

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: June 19 is the best day, because that’s when this crazy-creative channel delivers another weird video.

h3h3Productions: We ❤ Ethan & Hila

The Eric Andre Show: wutttttt

Hot Ones: Sure, I like wings and hot sauce, but I love watching Sean interview celebs who are sweating and crying in pain.

P.S. – Anything cat-related is obviously highly recommended here, too;)

P.P.S. – The top weirdest videos – the ones you just can’t look away from – are…

this

and

this.

(You’re welcome/I’m sorry!)

70+ English Resources!

I have only been teaching for a year and a half, but over that time, I researched numerous sites, attended several workshops and built up a huge list of resources; I teach English I-IV, journalism and theater arts…and if you do, too, here’s some assistance!

Below, you will find over 70 links to websites full of assignments, projects, worksheets and more!

I also sell lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers and have a Pinterest board dedicated to all this creative/hard work we put in! Follow me! Tell me what awesome links I left out! We’re all in this together…(cue High School Musical dance;)!

ENGLISH

General Lesson Plans (with some linked directly to my fave page on the site!)

http://www.varsitytutors.com/englishteacher

Grammar

Writing
Reading
Vocab
Worksheets/Quizzes
STAAR (resources, practice, details, info)
ACT
JOURNALISM
THEATER ARTS

The Best Shows on Netflix

Sense 8

From the creators of  The Matrix comes this tense series in which eight people can telepathically experience each other’s lives.

I was honestly blown away by this series. It’s like nothing else. It goes all out, in every way, delivering beautiful scenes done by beautiful characters. It’s weird and wonderful, and I cannot wait for the next season (which should release soon!)

Pretty Little Liars

A group of friends (the gorgeous Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson & Shay Mitchell) wake up to find one of their friends missing and, later, dead. After her murder and disappearance, the group is contacted by a mysterious figure who claims to be their deceased friend.

This show is my guilty pleasure. It may have started out being aimed at preteens, but the murders, kidnappings, love stories, cliffhangers and fact that I’m the same age as these actresses mean that I will continue watching until the end (which is coming this spring!).

Lost

After their plane crashes on a deserted island, a diverse group of people must adapt to their new home and contend with the island’s enigmatic forces.

If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with this show. The description doesn’t do it justice. My family and I started watching it as soon as it aired on ABC (on Wednesday night’s, after church, with burgers from the Woodson Inn), and then my husband and I followed it through college, even watching the series finale at the Alamo Drafthouse. I can’t say enough about this show, so I won’t say any more!

Gossip Girl

The series is narrated by the omniscient blogger “Gossip Girl” and is voiced by Kristen Bell. The plot revolves around the lives of privileged teens living on the Upper East Side of New York, and they can hide no secret from the ruthless blogger who’s always watching. Rounding out the main cast in the series are Blake Lively (as Serena van der Woodsen), Leighton Meester (as Blair Waldorf), Penn Badgley (as Dan Humphrey), Chace Crawford (as Nate Archibald), Ed Westwick (as Chuck Bass), Kelly Rutherford (as Lily van der Woodsen) and Matthew Settle (as Rufus Humphrey).

I’m not traditional, in any sense, so I didn’t watch Gossip Girl when it was cool to watch it; I watched it, like, last year – which was perfect, since my family took a Christmas trip to NYC, so I got to walk where Chuck and Blair got married, only a couple of days after watching it.

Stranger Things

A lost boy. A government lab steeped in terrible secrets. A mother who won’t rest until her son is found. The great Winona Ryder. The lovable Millie Bobby Brown. And Natalia Dyer and Finn Wolfhard as the Wheeler children.

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via: netflix.com

This was an instant hit, and most people (Me!) finished the eight episodes in one day, being drawn in by the unique story and 80’s vibe.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Narcissistic friends Charlie, Mac, Dennis and Dennis’s sister, Dee, run Paddy’s Pub, a downtown Philadelphia Irish bar, where everyone’s judgmental (and juvenile) behavior usually brings situations from uncomfortable to hysterically horrible.

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via: youtube.com

What a great description for a great show. My now-husband and his old roommate got me hooked on this show, and we.are.them. My husband, Tommy, is Mac, obsessed with working out. I’m Dee, born to be a star yet ridiculed, at times, for being so tall and bird-like. Bonus points for the fact that these two are married in real life! My brother (Dennis on the show and Tanner in real life) is a tall, self-proclaimed god-like creature, perfect in every way. And finally, there’s Charlie, the wild card (We’ll give this honor to our friend Robin;). If you like to laugh and are okay with ridiculous/crass situations, I highly recommend Always Sunny (Season 12 coming 1/4/17!).

End-of-the-Year Inspo

As a journalist – and, furthermore, as a journalist who would rather report on DIY trends and celebrity outfits rather than hard-hitting headlines – I’m fascinated by BuzzFeed. As a 20-something who needs something to do while Netflixing, I’m drawn in by the quizzes, click-bait titles and endless posts on relevant topics…but on a larger level, I just love what the site offers: real news stories (Only one of my journalism students says she keeps up with what’s happening in the world regularly, and she does this through BuzzFeed.)…entertainment galore (Anyone from anywhere at any age can find something they’ll enjoy here!)…and the added bonuses (Through movie quizzes, I’m introduced to new things to add to my must-watch list. Through lists of products, I come up with amazing Christmas gift ideas. And through posts like the following, I’m inspired…:)

"Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you."

Who: Jim Carrey

What: Commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management

When: 2014

Why this speech was so inspirational: “And when I say, ‘Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you’, I really don’t know if that’s true. I’m just making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial so that I can deal with them in the most productive way.”

How to apply this to life: The funny man is right; we don’t know the meaning of life or the purpose of living, but we’re in control of our thoughts and actions and lives, so actively view things positively, always strive to overcome, and remember that everyone is fighting a battle, & how we handle these challenges speaks volumes.

"This is water."

Who: David Foster Wallace

What: Commencement address at Kenyon College

When: 2005

Why this speech was so inspirational: A speech, book and YouTube video help listeners/readers/viewers understand that the ability of an old, wise fish to be aware of the water in which he swims is a metaphor for the conscious, self-aware, mindful existence Wallace is trying to encourage.

How to apply this to life: I’ve been obsessed with this for years, after stumbling upon the video, because awareness is key. Even if you don’t consider yourself “mindful”, and even if you don’t have a husband who made you read Nietzsche, you should always be thinking about who you are, where you are, what you should be doing, how you are doing and so on. These random check-ins will change your life (and I have a pretty little presentation I just made for my students on this, if you want me to send you a copy:).

"Just be Stevie Nicks."

Who: Tavi Gevinson

What: TED Talk – “A Teen Just Trying to Figure It Out

Why this talk was so inspirational: The talk is about what it means to be a feminist, a teenage girl, and the complex struggle of being both at the same time.

How to apply this to life: Again, even if you’re not a feminist or a teen or a female OR a Fleetwood Mac fan…Go research the chick, rent a hippie van, try on some fringe, and just go with it for a bit ;p

"It's okay that we're not perfect."

Who: Marina Abramović

What: TED Talk – “An Art Made of Trust, Vulnerability and Connection

When: 2015

Why this talk was so inspirational: This artist speaks a lot about her work and the public’s perception of her after experiencing it. This is just one stand-out quote that everyone needs to hear: “It’s okay that we’re not perfect. It’s okay that we all have problems. It’s okay to cry, to show emotions”.

How to apply this to life: Cry! Love yourself! Fully, 100 percent accept that no one is perfect. How boring would it be if we were all picture-perfect little robots?! It’s good to want a healthy dose of perfection and goodness, but be gentle with yourself, okay?

"I am. I am. I am."
Who: Sylvia Plath

What: The Bell Jar

Why this book was so inspirational: We know this read is a bit dark, but…“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”

How to apply this to life: As mentioned, be you. Check in on you. Love you. Listen to you. Breathe. Smile. BE. LIVE.

"When you're ready to wake up, you're going to wake up."
Who: Alan Watts

What: The Real You

When: 1915 

Why this quote was so inspirational: He was a philosopher for a reason, with his inspiration to stop feeling sorry for yourself and make some kind of change.

How to apply this to life: …Stop feeling sorry for yourself and make some kind of change!

"Everything is amazing right now and nobody is happy."
Who: Louis CK

What: low-key rant on Conan

Why this rant was so inspirational: If you really listen to it, it should give you a different perspective on a few things, including your desire to whine about long flights.

How to apply this to life: Life. Is. Amazing. Yes, bad things happen. Sure, there will be days when everything goes wrong. And – unfortunately – there will be moments when you’d rather sit in traffic for eternity rather than deal with loss, sadness and pain. It’s all about balance and perspective, though. Will the sun still come out tomorrow? Do you still have all your memories and talents and goals? Are you blooming where you are planted?

present.

This time of the year is one of my favorites, with Tommy’s birthday, Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, then Christmas and the new year – a time filled with lots of presents!

However, this post isn’t about gifts wrapped up with shiny bows; it’s about being PRESENT.

I’ve struggled with anxiety and stress and OCD-tendencies for as long as I can remember. There are ways to cope with any situation/problem, but that can be tough in a world full of photoshopped models, egotistical/competitive ways on social media and the desire to just want to be a normal, content, attractive, happy-go-lucky, loved human being!

Many of my blog posts (and Instagram posts and almost-finished books and thoughts) are about perspective and blessings; no one has it perfectly, and even on your worst day, you can look to your left, right or through your Facebook feed and see someone who is suffering far worse – with loss or illness or war or famine (Remember that, students and Bri and reader!).

If you haven’t realized by now, bad things will happen – and it’s all about how you deal with them. Do you deal with them at all? Do you make matters worse? Sometimes, we just need a reminder that life is short, so why not actually/really/honestly live it to the fullest?

Since my husband is a trainer and my dad is a coach, I’ve always worked out, but only recently have I been super dedicated – cutting out sweets, hitting the gym every single day of the week, pushing myself to my limits, not complaining about the sweat and seeing results!

When I put this dedication/drive to use in other areas of my life…I created amazing year-long lesson plans for all eight of the classes I teach. I even had time to help Tommy with his. Much to everyone’s surprise, I have started cooking more. I’ve been making the effort to compliment people and let them know how special they are. Most importantly, I’ve been focusing on just being the best overall me – and it helps to be present.

In any given moment, you could be thinking about or doing a bazillion different things; if you stop, breathe, put down the phone and look around, however, you’ll notice…A. the beauty of nature B. that wobbly table that you could fix (And won’t your significant other be so proud/glad?!) C. someone’s cute haircut to compliment D. that the worry of the past and the anxiety of the future and the stressors you may be feeling about that to-do list or work or life…none of that matters. Sure, it’s good to be responsible and conscientious – but don’t make yourself sick! Don’t live in the past! Don’t let the present pass you by because you’re too busy wondering what tomorrow will bring!

I bet that if you look around right now, in this very moment we’re in, you’ll see several things you should be thankful for – and that perspective on the present is a wonderful thing…just like you.:)

P.S. – Check out these 101 ways to #livelifetothefullest!

Happy birthday to me…

 “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes

Twenty-five years and my life is still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination
I turn 26 tomorrow.
I’m constantly trying to get up a big hill (of hope, of to-do lists, etc. – even if I feel like Sisyphus at times).
And we’re all always on a way to a destination (work, retirement, the weekend, goals, and so on).
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I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man
For whatever that means
What does that mean? Do we know what brotherhood is any more? Or love or peace or compassion? (After the election, whatever your feelings are on it, seems like a good time to ponder on questions like this – but you should also probably be aware of these things daily.)
And so I cry sometimes
When I’m lying in bed
Just to get it all out
What’s in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar
And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on?
And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what’s going on?
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I cry.
I love my bed.
I want and need to get it all out, at times.
I always feel a little peculiar (like one of Miss Peregrine’s).
I remind myself constantly to breathe.
But when I do stop and think, I wonder…What IS going on?
And I try, oh my god do I try
I try all the time
In this institution
And I pray, oh my god do I pray
I pray every single day
For a revolution
I’m always trying to be my best, praying that I please myself and those around me…and if a revolution comes from that, that’s cool, too.
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And so I cry sometimes…And I step outside…And I scream from the top of my lungs…What’s going on?
Twenty-five years and my life is still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination
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