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  • Articles,, Holiday, Home Life, Lifestyle

    Spring Break with Parents vs. Spring Break with Friends … What do I do?

    Spring Break

    Spring break season is upon us.


    In our heads, we think of this glorious, week-long break from school as a time to relax and recuperate from the trials and tribulations of spring semester. But in all actuality, is it really as revitalizing as we make it out to be?


    Spring break falls into two categories: making memories with friends or spending quality time with your parents. Although both have their pros and cons, spring break is never actually as relaxing as we make it out to be.


    I spent this past week in Arizona with my parents. After long days packed with hiking at the Grand Canyon, searching for wild horses and watching baseball in the desert heat, I’m finally back home– and let me be honest, I’m more tired than I was before the vacation.


    On the other hand, a group of my closest friends spent their spring break in California. Even though laying at the beach, sightseeing around Beverly Hills and chatting around a bonfire doesn’t seem to strenuous, they’re ready to return to everyday life, as well.


    So if spring break is going to inevitably end up in exhaustion, how do you make a decision on what you’re going to do?


    In my opinion, spending vacation with your parents is always the way to go. Yeah, you’ll miss your friends (and probably encounter quite a bit of FOMO), but after a short week, you’ll be back together again.


    Spring break-ing with parents is much more smooth– the group is more organized and overall does more activities (and hey, not paying for everything with your own money is a perk). You don’t have to worry about travel or living situations, and they’re you’re family, so you know you’ll get along. Sometimes.


    Experiencing new things with friends is always a good time, but truthfully, spending too much time with them could produce some difficulties.


    I missed my friends this past week, without a doubt. But there’s nowhere else I would’ve rather been than with my family. Plus, family vacations aren’t forever– milk it while you still can!


    If you’re debating on whether to spend spring break with friends or family, follow the number one rule: family comes first. Besides the perpetual state of tiredness after it’s over, a great time is guaranteed.

  • Bullying, Home Life, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Stress

    Broken Glass: Short Story

    Jenna Prez raced home from school blood dripping down her face as the bruise on her forehead pulsates. She didn’t take much time throwing her bookbag down and running off to the bathroom the check the damage. She stares in the mirror not cleaning herself up but letting the blood drip from her mouth, and tears from her eyes. Why can’t the leave us alone, she thinks, can’t they mind their own business. Jenna goes to an all girl catholic high school where she met her first girlfriend, Regina Price. She had always known she was not attracted to boys, but until Regina, she wasn’t sure she was attracted to anyone. They had kept their relationship ‘on the down low’ for the past three months enjoying the secrecy of their teenage love. They would go on secret dates and hold hands pretending only to be best friends. There secret was well hidden until today when another girl, Janet Kinkle, saw Jenna kiss Regina on the cheek under the bleachers during gym. Jenna and Regina were unaware of Janet’s presence until they got back to the locker room where six of Janet’s friends were waiting on them. As soon as Jenna and Regina walked through the door, the other girls pummeled them to the floor scratch and punching them while yelling derogatory terms for lesbians. The coach, eventually, heard the commotion and broke up what was going to seem like a fight and not a clear attack on two innocent girls. Jenna and Regina were sent to the office for their misbehavior and were sentenced to three days of suspension while also having a call to home for what they had been hiding. The principal didn’t punish the other girls because she understood why they were enraged by this ‘immoral’ behavior. Jenna hears a loud knocking on the bathroom door, and she checks the time on her apple watch. Her mother was home from work. She builds up the courage she can and opens the door, and as soon as she meets her mother’s eyes, she is slammed into the door by her mother’s hand. Her mother slapped her across the face with tears in her eyes stating Jenna would never see Regina again, and she is disgusting. Her mother walks away, and Jenna shuts the door once again staring at herself in the mirror- not crying or speaking-only staring. She had no one in her life who fully accepted her but Regina, and now Regina was gone. Jenna was completely alone. Her breathing becomes heavy, and she slams her fist into the mirror breaking her reflection.

  • Home Life

    Make Your Room Instantly Cozy!

    Make Your Room Instantly Cozy

    Make Your Room Instantly Cozy!

    Sometimes the smallest changes make the largest impact


    My Christmas lights above my dresser were pathetically hanging by one nail with half of the lights not shining at all. Which meant I had to use my overhead light that made the ambiance more like a gas station. My bookshelf was full of random items and was used for storage rather than books.

    My room felt miserable to be in. It was cluttered and disorganized.

    When I come home after a long day, I want to put on my pajamas and curl up in my blankets surrounded by warm lights that make me feel cozy and happy. My blank walls, broken lights, and junky bookshelf were not giving me the happy vibes I needed. When I finally had enough – I brainstormed on how to make my room somewhere I wanted to be.

    I started with my blank walls. I picked up a stack of photographs that had been sitting there for months waiting to be used and hung them. This instantly changed how my room felt. It felt less like an apartment and more like my sanctuary.

    Next, my bookshelf needed a major redo. I took the random items and placed them inside of an antique suitcase I had and grabbed my favorite books to place in my bookshelf. Cleaning up that bookshelf was such a small thing but it made a huge difference in my room. My room was already cleaner and less junky.

    Finally, to the Christmas lights.

    The lights definitely needed to be replaced. I drove to Hobby Lobby and bought a 3ft strand of Christmas lights. I hung them so that they were on the wall surrounding my entire room. The aesthetic of my room completely changed, and now gives me that warm and cozy feeling every bedroom needs.

    I lit my candle, which was perfectly placed on my bookshelf, full of books and wow it felt so much better! I was shocked at how different my room looked and felt. Now, I look forward to hanging out in my room and I love it so much. I get so excited to finally get home, jump in my comfy bed and lay under the yellow lights with a book in my hand and the smell of a candle burning.

  • Articles, Home Life, Lifestyle

    Unplug and Experience the Present

    Unplug and Experience the Present

    guest post by Martha Underwood, CEO of Executive Estrogen

    Do you have a hard time concentrating on one thing? Do you check your Instagram or snapchat first thing in the morning? Do you seem to lose track of time? Do you panic if you lose or forget your phone? Do you take the phone into the bathroom with you? If you’ve answered yes to two or more of these questions you may have a cyber addiction. This can have a negative effect on your health and life without realizing it. These habits can contribute to ADHD, anxiety and low self-esteem.


    Discover the Real

     Being online can feel like an escape from your emotions, but it’s not, because it’s not real. Some people put more value on the experience they create online than what they encounter in real life. The danger is that you can become immersed and sucked into the online presence they created instead of what’s truly real. That turns into an attachment to a fantasy. If you can relate to this, take small steps to reduce your time online and replace that reduced time with true human engagement. You can start with calling someone you’ve known for a while but only engaged with them through social media. Commit to finding real connections with people in your life and find ways to deepen those connections without technology.


    How to Unplug

    Disengaging and limiting your screen-time  is easier said than done. So, what steps can you take to help you unplug from your smartphone?

    Give yourself a list of things you must do before you get online. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do:

    • Read 3 chapters of a book
    • Create something – draw, compose a song, write a poem, write a short story
    • Practice playing an instrument
    • Play a board game with a friend or sibling
    • Take a dance class
    • Create a new hair style without recording it
    • Work on a jigsaw puzzle
    • Meet a friend at Starbucks

    You may be damaging your mental health while missing out on life by needing to see what’s happening online instead of connecting with the people right in front of you. It will still be there when you look an hour or two from later. I promise it will (unless you’re on snapchat ????) Until then……Find your balance.


    Keep Shining,


  • Home Life, Writing

    Changing My Verb


    By: Blanca Tallaj

    I remember sitting at the dinner table with Mama, Papa, and my brother when I was about ten. Mama was telling Papa a story about her day. Papa was sitting at the head of the table scrolling through his phone, not listening to her. By the look in her eyes, I could tell she felt sad that he wasn’t paying attention to her—it was like she was talking to a brick wall. Before she was even done with her story, however, Papa looked up, interrupted her, and started complaining about his day. When she was interrupted, Mama tightened her lips but didn’t say anything. She kept eating. From this and other exchanges between my parents, I indirectly learned that my verb was “to please,” and should always be “to please.” During that dinner scene, Mama let her voice be secondary to Papa’s. I indirectly learned that women’s voices were inferior to men’s, and this damaging lesson has followed me throughout my entire life. Now, however, I want my verb to be “to voice,” because I am an individual whose opinions are just as important as anyone else’s. I undergo subjective experiences like everyone else, and though people might not relate to my perspective, I am a part of this world, and I want to use my voice to help other young girls and Latinas.

    Growing up, my verb was always “to please,” and any variations on that verb, like “to be silent” and “to be nice.” As a young girl, I was always taught to be nice. I remember one day, when I was about seven years old, I told Mama that I hated a boy in my class because he was mean. I thought Mama would reassure me. Instead, she looked at me with her brow furrowed and said, “Blanca, young ladies don’t ever say ‘hate.’ That’s not nice.” From that point on, I tried being the perfect “nice” girl in order to please my parents. When adults met me for the first time, they would smile at me and tell my parents that they “raised me right” because I was “such a quiet, nice young lady.” I was raised to be nice, and in our society, most nice people are young girls because being nice is synonymous with never offending anyone and silencing yourself to please others. Girls are often taught to cater to the needs of others before their own. As a child, I rarely disagreed with anyone, even if I knew that what they said was wrong. I was taught to tend to others’ needs before my own, and this philosophy is still true for me today.

    Recently, I realized that my verb is still “to please” because I haven’t completely shed the mentality that informed my earlier years. About a year ago, I was trapped in an unhealthy friendship. I let that friend isolate me from my other friends. I stayed with that friend—even when he insulted me and made me feel bad about myself—because I felt a duty to stay in that friendship. It wasn’t “nice” to abandon him, even if he was unhealthy. However, after much help from my family, I finally left the friendship. I thought that after I left the friendship, I overcame my verb, but now, I realize that I haven’t. Leaving the friendship was a great first step, but my mindset hasn’t changed. Sometimes, when I start voicing an opinion, it sounds idiotic to my ears. Halfway through my comment, I let my voice peter out into mumbling. If no one hears my opinion, then no one can take offense. I am afraid of people getting offended because of me. This is one of the reasons I often don’t voice my opinions.

    I want my verb to be “to voice.” For so many years, I’ve been taught that my voice is not important, that it is secondary to a man’s, and that my ultimate goal as a “nice young lady” should be to never offend anybody. However, now more than ever, my voice matters. Donald Trump is president. Trump supporters around the country are rejoicing. They feel empowered. It’s important for me to use my voice to fight against the bigoted opinions currently sweeping the nation, because if I don’t, then these dangerous ideas will grow and spread. My voice could get drowned out, but at least I’ll know that I tried to share my opinion. I don’t want to keep silent any longer; it’s unhealthy for me to keep my opinions and my anger inside. I will only feel truly empowered when I utilize my voice.

    I know I can’t change my verb overnight. It’s going to take a lot of work on my part. I’ve always been a little quiet, and even raising my hand in class can be a struggle. However, I am determined to push myself to speak. I’ll start out slow. If someone makes an intolerant joke, I won’t laugh just to make the other person feel better like I’ve done in the past. Instead, I’ll call the other person out by explaining why the joke isn’t funny. I risk offending the other person, but I’ve slowly come to realize that offending someone isn’t the worst thing in the world. It just means that I’m not as “nice” as people thought I was. Over time, calling people out will help me feel more confident in my beliefs. Finally, I’ll be able to voice my opinions more freely. The day that I feel no hesitation calling someone out or voicing an opinion, even if I know no one else agrees with me, is the day that I know my verb will have changed. Maybe someday, girls won’t be taught to please; they’ll be taught to utilize their voices. Then, there will never be a girl who doesn’t know her own strength.

  • Health, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships, School, This and That, Tips, Writing

    How to Make Someone Feel Special

    Everyone likes to feel listened to, respected, and appreciated. It’s human nature and we like those who make us feel those things. That’s why it is a great skill to be able to make someone feel special. The best thing about it is that it’s so easy!

    1. Listen to them.
    And really listen to them. Listen without thinking about what you’re going to say next, just focus on the person and what they have to say. Sometimes it might feel natural to interrupt someone else’s sentence when you’re excited but try to let whoever you’re talking to completely finish their thought. Besides, you already what you’re going to say but you don’t know how the other person feels about a topic or information they might know. One of Bill Nye’s most famous quotes is: “Everyone knows something you don’t”, and if you approach conversations with this in mind you’ll automatically focus more on what the other person has to say and you’ll seem a lot more interested because, well, you are! Make eye contact, ask questions, give them your undivided attention, and remember what they tell you so you can show them how much you really were tuned in. Those who really listen to us and are interested in what we have to say are the people we love most because they make us feel… special!

    2. Validate them.
    Everyone wants to have their ideas and actions validated, it’s a natural feeling to want to hear those around you compliment what you’re doing. So a sure way to make a person feel good is to compliment them, congratulate their accomplishments, and validate their ideas, goals, and interests. There are so many ways to make a person feel validated, tell them you agree with them on a certain topic, ask for their advice or opinion an issue, compliment their positive traits, or anything else that communicates to them that you recognize a good thing they are doing. Criticism can be common friend to friend but try to be aware of how much and how harshly you criticize a person. If a little validation from someone you trust gives you a feeling of positivity, a little criticism gives a person ten times as much feeling but in a negative way. So be aware of how much disapproval you show someone, it can erase all the validation you give them and then some.

    3. Show your respect.
    So often in life, we are given little to know respect so being the person to give someone the respect they deserve goes a long way. To truly respect someone you must respect all things about them including their time, their reputation, and your relationship with them. That means being honest with them even about difficult matters. That means never talking badly about them behind their back because you respect their reputation that much. If you hear something about them, give them the benefit of the doubt you wish others would give you in similar moments. Try to limit how much you speak negatively of others around them too, because you wouldn’t want to hurt their reputation with other people also. Respect their time by realizing that they might be busy when you’d like to chat and that their whole schedule does not revolve around your needs. You don’t have to aim to be respectful with just authority figures, realize everyone in your life would benefit from feeling respected and would probably return the favor. The feeling of being trusted is a special feeling in our world and it is an easy gift you can give to others.

    Just a reminder that all the feelings listed above are gifts that cost exactly nothing but really affect how a person feels about themselves and their life. So give the gift of respect, attention, validation to anyone who you think deserves to feel special and do so in generous amounts because, after all, no one can ever run out of appreciation and admiration. Give some to your parents, your teachers, even people you don’t necessarily like and see how your life changes! You’ll find that being a person that knows how to make a person feel special is awfully… special!