Monthly Archives

September 2018

  • Lifestyle

    Coping with Short-Lived Poverty

    Coping with Short-Lived Poverty

    To this day, I refuse to eat spaghetti in any form. When boxes of noodles are 2 for a dollar and the pasta sauce is only 95 cents, you just have to suck it up. I remember my mom would jokingly ask us what we wanted for dinner at night, and before we could even say anything she was halfway finished with cooking another pot of noodles. Sometimes she would switch it up and we would have four canned vegetables and maybe some mashed potatoes.

    Though the food situation was not ideal, it was manageable. The real problem came with needing clothes, school supplies, and wanting to do extracurricular activities. Our household income was only a thousand dollars more than what the state considered to be in need of free lunches and EBT cards. At the time I prayed for that to be the case because I was so embarrassed that I would have the lunch lady say aloud how poor I was every time she rang up my food. But as I get older, I understand that it would have been better for my parents and for me had we been offered those assists.

    When you are used to one life style and then quickly have to adjust to a new one it’s never easy. I ended up taking on two after school jobs and an internship to help pay for the things I wanted most, and then did without the things that were not so important. I joined my school’s Show Choir and was able to make the $60 monthly payments by doing fundraisers. I won every fundraiser that my group did, because I knew that I had to in order to stay in it. If you can’t find a job or don’t have the ability to fund-raise properly, then seek out sponsors. I asked a local restaurant to sponsor me and my softball team throughout school, and never had to worry about paying for equipment. When I wanted to go out of town with my friends, or even just go to the movies, I did odd jobs like gardening for my neighbors or cleaning some friends’ houses.

    If you are embarrassed of your situation, just consider that maybe you are not alone. Only one of my friends in high school knew how bad my situation was, and the rest were completely oblivious. It always made me wonder how many of them were just as good at hiding it.

    If you are worried about working and keeping up with your grades, then don’t seek an official job. Most part-time employers will work with your schedule, but sometimes you may need to look into less obvious work. I worked events on the weekends for companies that paid $20 an hour. I had little experience and was making a killing. I will add some links to those jobs down below if anyone is interested. The pay comes every 1-2 months, so make sure not to count on living paycheck to paycheck unless you work a ton of events back to back. Check with your local football or baseball stadium, sometimes the catering companies are hiring 15 and up to work weekends. Starting pay is typically pretty good and the work is not hard.

    Always make sure to ask a parent of guardian before starting a new job, because they deserve a say in what you are doing. If you are 15 years-old, then you will need a work permit that is approved by a legal guardian and your school. If you have a shopping addiction, then try working for a retail store that you like so that you can get that 15% or more discount.

    You should not be embarrassed to have a job while in school. It looks great on resumes, and lets future employers know that you can handle multiple tasks at once. If you pantry looks anything like mine did when I was in high school, you might want to consider the above suggestions.

    Links to employment:

  • Depression

    My Story On Living With Anxiety and Depression

    My Story On Living With Anxiety and Depression

    Living with anxiety and depression is exhausting. You swerve between being unable to sleep because you fear everyone you love is going to die, to feeling absolutely nothing when someone actually ends up in the hospital. You spend hours fighting the thoughts in your head that tell you that people would be better off without you. You can’t stop clenching your fist to stop your hand from shaking, as your heartbeat paces uncontrollably. Depression and anxiety can take up so much of your headspace, that you can no longer keep up with day-to-day activities, like eating nutritious meals, maintaining a work schedule, or sometimes even being able to get out of bed. The worst part is, you may dismiss your feelings as unimportant: but this dismissal is as much a symptom of needing to consult with a mental health professional.

     

    When I was dealing with anxiety and depression, I was scared that I would have to rely on medicines forever. My doctorwas quick to assure me that mental health recovery, like all disease management, was not that unmanageable. He told me that while counselling and (when needed) medication were primary to recovery, there were small lifestyle changes I could make to ease out, quicken and sustain the recovery process. Just hearing this reminded me that I had control over my life. It made me feel less anxious and more hopeful. If you are living with anxiety and depression; besides getting trained help, here are some small lifestyle changes I made that can be beneficial for you too:

     

    Food

    When I began experiencing the symptoms of depression, I was in college. Living away from the home for the first time gave me the independence to eat and drink what I want. I ended up drinking alcohol and eating junk food a lot, due to stress and the party culture in colleges. This took an instant toll on my mental health because I would feel guilty and hateful towards myself the whole week. So the first lifestyle change I made was in my diet.

     My doctor suggested to have healthy foodsand to incorporate vitamins in my diet, especially Vitamin C and Vitamin E into my food as studieshad found Vitamin C and E can help reverse the neurochemical imbalances that cause anxiety.

     I added fruits containing Vitamin Clike guavas, blackcurrants, and peppers, and Vitamin E-rich food like almonds and kiwis to my meals. Not only did I feel mentally and physically better, I even felt I had regained control over my diet and body.

     

    Fitness

    I was an ardent swimmer when I was younger, but I had stopped swimming as I grew up. During a depressive spell, I had beaten myself up this and felt as though could never return to being a good swimmer. My psychologist alleviate my fears and told me to simply plunge into the pool and keep at it for a week. At the end of the end of the week, not only was I feeling happier because I had conquered my irrational fears; the exercise also boosted my endorphins, which made me feel happier. While researching, I also found that another factor could have helped me feel better: the sun. I found out that Vitamin D deficiency can cause depressive feelings, and eating foods rich in Vitamin D and exercising in the open can be the best way to lap up this vitamin.

     

    Perspective

    Dealing with anxiety can be debilitating because your irrational thoughts often conquer you. If my parents wouldn’t pick up the phone, I would keep ringing them till they did, because I irrational thought the worst had happened. My friend (who was also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder) would lose sleep if her desk was not arranged in a certain way. We both found that a few perspective changes would actually help stop these thoughts. If I felt as though I couldn’t stop thinking about my loved ones dying, I would force myself to focus on my sensory abilities. Sometimes, I slowly chewed a raisin and tried to mentally describe its texture, taste and shape. Other times, I would walk on wet grass and focus on its sensations on my feet. This usually distracted me from my thoughts and curb their power over me. If this did not work, I would write down whatever I was fearing, and tear up the sheet. This helped me feel unburdened. 

     

    Supplements

    However, when my anxiety or depression really acted up, I resorted to a few supplements besides my standard medication. As these supplements were primarily plant-based, they had no side effects and did not cause any issues. I tried fish oil supplements, filled with healthy Omega-3 acids, which has been foundto help counter the effects of depression. I also took CBD Oil for anxiety, as it helped me de-stress and relax. I also added saffron to my tea. Not only did it add a wonderful flavour, but it helped in healing my depression.

     

    Now that I have recovered, and my mental health is much better, I find, that in fact, it is these small lifestyle changes that helped me get healthy quickly. It is by incorporating these changes that I can now sustain my mental health and live happily and healthily.

     

     

  • Writing

    Personal Self Care Tips for You and Your Natural Hair

    Personal Self Care Tips for You and Your Natural Hair

    Making time for myself, especially since I am a full time student, can be a lot to handle or placed on the back burner. But as I have said before, self care is an important ritual that should be sacred and placed in our everyday schedules. For beginners, natural hair can be a tough obstacle to tackle if you do not have a personal relationship with it. Below are a few tips and tricks to taking care of your hair and yourself on the days that seem a little tougher than others:

    1. Your hair is a reflection of you. With that being said, make sure that you are using shampoos and conditioners that are supporting the growth of your hair and not taking away from that. Stray away from products that contains sulfate, or more pH balanced hair products.
    2. Diet is an important part of hair growth, so make sure that you are getting the proper amounts of nutrients. Our hair does not have vitamins so it is important that we feed it through a healthy and productive meal.
    3. Exercise. It releases a bunch of serotonin into your brain and into your body and has been known to fight stressors in the body.
    4. Do not over wash your hair. Washing your hair as often as possible can cause your hair to look dull in appearance.
    5. Keep a journal of your natural hair journey, recording your hair growth and the things that you learn about yourself along the way. Take pictures of yourself, if you want to.
    6. Keep music in the background in order to enjoy the process. I have noticed that when I have my favorite artist on, I tend to enjoy doing some of my hardest tasks more and it eases the strain.
    7. When washing your hair, steer away from using extremely hot water because it strips the nutrients from your hair, or the sebum which is a protective layer of oil over the hair.
    8. Stray away from comparing yourself to another woman or another man whose hair might be longer. Everyone’s natural hair journey is unique and varies among one another. We all fall short of this but, know that it is important to create your own lane and to stay within that.

    I didn’t watch too many YouTube videos or stay in tune with many YouTube gurus, but it was more on the field of many friends that I learned how to take care of my hair. I remember coming in a few times out of the school year, and some of my friends would volunteer to cut a few of my permed ends off, without judgement. It was very personal and sacred.

    Allowing yourself the proper time to be involved in this kind of way is emotionally healthy and will help you with being more in tune with yourself. Because when you are in tune with yourself, it is significantly easier to navigate this world. Taking care of yourself becomes less of a problem that you have to carry on your own but, instead something that radiates effortlessly from off of you.

     

  • Portfolio

    3 Hard Truths About Drinking Underage

    3 Hard Truths About Drinking Underage

    by guest blogger Josephine 

    At some point in our teenage years, we become introduced to the idea of alcohol. In some cultures, families introduce wine to their children at a somewhat younger age and in doing so will give them a small glass of wine at dinner time. It teaches them to be responsible drinkers in the future. In most countries, the legal drinking age is 18, so as soon as they are adults, they can drink legally and responsibly and also start to learn about what kind of drinks they like. In American culture, we are stereotyped as reckless drinkers who party all of the time. This stereotype is not entirely true, but the legal drinking age being 21 makes some people not be able to learn how to drink moderately and responsibly at a young age and instead some people take it and go crazy. This law also imposes some dangers on anyone under 21 who may try and drink anyways. Not only is it illegal, but as teenagers we tend to think we are invincible when in reality we are not, so sometimes we feel that these dangers do not apply to us. These are the three hard truths about drinking underage as not only Americans but as teens in America.

    #1. Jail is a real possibility – If you are in possession of alcohol or have alcohol in your system, you will get arrested. If you are driving with alcohol in your system, then you will get a DUI no matter what no matter how little alcohol is in your system. When you are not responsible if you drink underage, it can put you behind bars and ruin your personal record.

    #2. You won’t truly have fun if you aren’t being responsible, no matter what age – Not only is jail a possibility when drinking underage but the morning after can reveal any bad decisions you made the night before. When you are new to drinking and are figuring things out on your own, you may not know about certain things like the severity of a hangover or what that one drunk text can do to your dignity. You may have fun for a moment or two but if you aren’t responsible the consequences can surpass the fun you had the previous night. This is one of those things that most people end up learning the hard way.

    #3. People have died from drinking too much and drinking recklessly – This is another “you aren’t invincible” piece of advice. Those who lose someone from alcohol-related incidences tend to be more careful when they drink; I know some people who don’t drink at all because they lost someone due to reckless drinking. These types of incidences can include drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, or even raging drunks who have hurt others while under the influence. Whatever you do, don’t pose a threat to yourself and especially those around you.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with drinking when you are being responsible, and even more importantly you are in a safe space and/or with people who you feel safe around. We all love having a glass of wine with dinner or having a beer with friends. Nonetheless, the drinking age is 21 and you will always have the possibility of putting yourself in danger when you decide to pick up a drink until you reach that age. It can be easy to stay sober in high school, but harder once you graduate and you have older friends. Just remember to remain cautious and always stay aware of your surroundings. If you are being reckless, you are not only putting yourself at risk but those around you as well.

  • Articles, Travel

    Life Oriented Journey

    Life Oriented Journey

    by Farah Hemdan

    Farah Hemdan is a dreamer, a visionary, and a summer intern with GirlSpring. A native of Egypt, she loves travel and finding new ways to discover herself. 

    My life oriented journey, that didn’t take me to people, cultures or streets, but took me to details, corners, words and seconds.. Seconds of life.

    I spent my last hour in this place reading a book by Rebecca Campbell called Light is the New Black, where she shared her most intimate experience with a 50 year old woman that she can’t even remember the name of and whom she had known for ONLY 5 minutes.

    And that, I was left questioning how seconds and details can change people’s life while others are searching for extremes  just to feed their souls? How a whole city can be built upon corners and people’s worlds can be turned upside down in minutes, while we spend years and cross borders just searching for breathtaking moments that have always been there, within every element of the creation of OUR world.

    But what I remember from this place answers this question.

    I remembered the sudden ear pressure on the road that makes you realize that you’re being uplifted towards the sky, the dust following a maroon jeep car seen through cactus, natives singing for 60 year old couples in the rain, ice cream in coconut shells, the places I’ve visited with no clue till now whether they were houses, restaurants, galleries or studios but regardless any terms of definitions, it was just full of life.

    Every second and corner that participated in shaping my journey in this place is existing in every detail of our world but it’s all about the perspective of visioning , I believe this place need to teach the world how to see life!

    So let me introduce you to world’s best city of 2018! San Miguel D’allende, Mexico.

    The city of details.

  • Articles, Money

    What Teens Should Know About Taxes

    What Teens Should Know About Taxes

    If you have ever gone shopping then you know about sales tax, but do you know about every other tax under the sun? When you buy a house, rent an apartment, buy land, buy a car, pay for license plates, get a job, or have dinner, you are bound to pay some sort of tax. For some reason, general education does not focus enough on things that are relevant to students once they graduate high school, such as hidden tax fees.

    I recently purchased a car from a private seller and knew a little bit about taxing and that I should expect to pay it heavily on my new car. Yet, when I arrived at the dealer, I was met with a smaller amount to be paid than anticipated. Why was that, you may wonder? I was under the impression that sales tax (being around 9% or 10% in my state) was the average amount of taxes taken out of everything. I had been working multiple different jobs since graduating high school and never once stopped to ask what the percentage was being taken from my paychecks. I just accepted that the money would be automatically withdrawn and moved on.

    If someone had never purchased a car before (I.e. a recent graduate of high school or college), then finding out a tax needed to be paid at all might come as a shock. Fortunately, I had bought a car prior to this instance with my mother and had to pay taxes on it. The only problem is that the first time I bought a car, the tax was 10%, but this time it was only 3%. I asked the lady at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) why the tax was different, and she explained to me that the state I live in only does a 3% tax on vehicles, and this was a recent change. I accepted the information, paid the due, and once again moved on.

    Here is some useful information to consider when making large purchases in Alabama:

     

    1. The sales tax in Alabama is pretty high compared to other states in the nation, and in the counties nearest me it is either 9% or 10%. This means that for every dollar you spend, you pay 10 cents in taxes. If you spend $10, you will pay $1 in taxes. This only applies when shopping.
    2. Do not assume you know the exact value of the taxes on your vehicle purchase. The state now assigns an estimated value for your vehicle and taxes it according to that. So, if you purchase a car for $5500, but it is valued at $6900, then you will be paying a 3% or 4% tax on $6900.
    3. Always, always research your local taxes before making large purchases, because taxes can change. Or there could be additional taxes that you may not have even known about.

     

    Here is a link for further knowledge of taxes:

    https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-offers-tips-for-teenage-taxpayers-with-summer-jobs

  • Portfolio

    Autumn

    All the leaves hitting the ground
    Yet no one hears a sound
    They’re all slowly dying
    But everyone thinks of them as flying
    Why does everyone look around with gleaming eyes
    When it’s a never-ending cycle of disguise after disguise