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  • Confidence,, Home Life, Lifestyle

    Challenge Yourself

    Trying new things is a little scary, and more often than not, uncomfortable. Once people fall into a comfortable routine, it is hard to step away from it and change things up. But in order for growth and progress, new experiences are crucial. 

    I didn’t always have this attitude about trying new things. Instead, I preferred to follow a day to day routine, repeating the same tasks daily. I stuck to eating the same foods I always ate and spending time with the friends that I have known for years. For the longest time, I didn’t feel confident enough to change or develop my way of doing things. I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone. 

    This summer I was faced with a dilemma. I had the chance to take on a life-changing opportunity, a month-long program in Boston. I realized that this would be the longest time I spent in a totally unfamiliar city without my family. I was hesitant, but with heavy contemplation, I decided to go.

    Now I am halfway through the program, and in these few weeks, I have had to challenge myself to break out of the same old routine and my fixed mindset. I tried different cuisines and Starbucks orders, I learned how to navigate a subway, and I made new friends from all over the world and opened up to them. But most importantly, I encouraged myself to see things from new perspectives and to be more open and understanding.

    Overall, my experiences here in Boston have been enriched by adventure and discovery. Through being more willing to try new things, I allowed myself to face and overcome my fears, to realize my insecurities, and to learn a lot about myself and my capabilities. 

    Whether it be something as small as switching up your Starbucks order or as momentous as travelling to a totally unfamiliar city alone, I challenge you to look at the world with an open mind and try all kinds of new things and experiences.

  • Articles, Home Life

    Finding the Good in the Bad: Dealing with Divorced Parents

    divorced parents

    Watching your parents go through a divorce is one of the toughest parts of life any child can go through; regardless of age. Whether you’ve experienced this as a child or an adult, there are positive lessons that come from the difficult process. 

    If you found out your parents are getting divorced know that everything will be okay, and whatever you’re feeling is normal. Here are answers to some of the questions you may have.

    It’s an End, But it Makes A New Beginning

    A divorce is technically the end of a relationship. Despite that, it proves that in life, it’s never too late to make a change and find your happiness. It’s never easy to watch two people, originally thought to be together forever, split up. But if you keep the possibility of their happiness in mind, it’s easier to understand the steps they have to take to get there. Everyone deserves to be happy, even if that means taking some less-than-ideal steps along the way.  

    Sometimes, we can get caught up in seeing our parents as a unit with their sole purpose being to raise us. We forget that they had a life before having kids. That their personalities masked due to only viewing them as a mom or dad. They’re actually real people with real feelings. 

    In negative situations, our negative qualities are brought out. A divorce results in the separation of two people. But it also is the separation of the cynical and pessimistic emotions that stem from overall unhappiness. Divorce isn’t ideal, but it results in seeing your parents as individual people. People with dreams, unique characteristics, and emotions completely separate from their children.

    The technical term for divorce, without relation to marriage, is to separate or dissociate from something else. Similarly, the definition of independent is not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence. 

    The Main Thing to Take Away From Divorce

    The main lesson that can come from divorce is independence. Life doesn’t end with one bump in the road, and it’s possible to be content without relying on another person. Seeing our parents as individuals focusing on their own personal happiness, no matter how hard at first, is an inspiration to find happiness in ourselves first.

    Young or old, watching your parents go through a divorce is difficult for everyone involved. But, like all painful experiences, it provides the opportunity for a positive mindset and lifelong lessons. 

    Just remember: you aren’t the reason your parents divorced. You can take this crazy time and make something amazing out of it!

  • Articles,, Home Life, Lifestyle

    Growing Up with 2 Older Brothers

    older brothers

    It was Very Crazy…

    I attribute a lot of my personality to growing up with brothers. They drove me crazy when I was younger, and sometimes they still do, but I’m thankful for everything they’ve taught me. Whether they realize it or not.

    Pressley, born in 1990, is the oldest. He is a great storyteller, because he can make anything hysterical. Pressley loves to be outside and will eat pretty much anything. He loves Clemson football and gives the best hugs in the world.

    Jeremy, born in 2000, is the middle child. He is witty and extremely stylish. He loves history and is obsessed with cars. I was born in 2002 so I’m the baby, but they never treated me differently. Just the three of us, trying to have fun and figure out life.

    The craziness at our house was never-ending. One time, Pressley built Jeremy a bike ramp in the back yard. It definitely was not stable. Then, Pressley somehow got that same bike stuck in a tree. Another day, Pressley threatened to flush my hermit crabs down the toilet, because I stole his hat. Maybe he was slightly overreacting. A few years later, Jeremy convinced me to jump out of our treehouse using a trash bag as a parachute. I was skeptical, but he landed safely so I thought I would too. However, he didn’t remind me to unfold the bag before I jumped. Needless to say, I hit the ground so hard I couldn’t breathe. Not my finest moment. They would always make sure I felt included, and often times would join me in whatever I wanted to do. They always make sure I know how proud they are.

    But I Wouldn’t Change it for Anything

    Looking back on my childhood makes me laugh. How did our parents not lose their minds living in the zoo we created? Growing up alongside Pressley and Jeremy is the main reason I am the way I am.  My brothers made me tough, strong, and taught me to be a fighter. Everything was a competition, nerf war was a HUGE deal, so I learned to push myself. I wanted to win.

    Because of my relationships with my brothers, I know never to settle in any type of relationship. They always make me feel protected and respected. They taught me not to be easily intimidated, that it’s okay to be intimidating and to stand my ground. I know to make sure my voice is heard, even if I have to be louder than everyone else. We show that people don’t have to agree on every single thing, in order to get along. I am extremely thankful for Pressley and Jeremy and what they’ve passed on to me, especially the comfortable sweatshirts.

    Many of my friends have said “you should be glad you don’t have a sister” and I am. I have my brothers, and they are all I’ll ever need. They are my most honest critics and my biggest supporters. They both mean everything to me. I’ve watched them grow up into incredible, hilarious, and caring people and I couldn’t be prouder.

    Here are 20 more amazing things about having an older brother.. or two!

  • Articles,, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships

    Not Your Average Family


    I wish everyone in the world could experience the look of bewilderment I receive when I try to explain my family dynamic. Yes, I am one of six kids. Yes, four of my siblings have a different mother. Yes, I am a 20-year-old with four nieces and nephews. Yes, my oldest brother just hit the 40-year milestone.

    I might not have a traditional family, but I wouldn’t change my upbringing for the world.

    I imagine my older siblings and I get along so well because they spent most of their life raised in a different home. We didn’t have the stereotypical sibling experience of being at each other’s throats 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Except for my younger, full sister. She’s a terror). I would see my half-brothers and sister every other week, which isn’t much time, but we made up for it.

    Reflecting on my childhood memories, my favorite times have always included them. My brother Zack, a high schooler at the time, showing me what “cool” music was while laboring over yard work. Baking Christmas cookies with my older sister, Katie, while belting out “Winter Wonderland” at the top of our lungs. My oldest brothers, Darin and Chad, instructing me on how to throw the perfect spiral, urging me to stay outside in the brisk Illinois air until I perfected it.

    While these memories, along with countless more, have made my childhood so special, I’ve realized, just in the past few years, how important my siblings are in shaping who I am.

    My Siblings Shaped Me

    The summer before my freshman year of college, I received a gift from my older sister: a necklace with an angel charm. But placed on the box was the true gift—a sticky-note asking me to be her maid of honor. Shock rippled through me. All of my older brothers were married at this point, but this proposal hit me the hardest; I felt like it was just yesterday that Katie and I were dancing to “Crazy Frog,” pajama pants pulled up to our belly-buttons. And now she’s getting married?

    Months passed, and I moved to Alabama for college. For the first time, I had been away from my family. It was also the first time I could truly sense my own identity, learning how much of a role my siblings played in it. Fall break rolled around at the same time as my sister’s wedding, and I was so excited to return to the mundane cornfields of the Midwest. More so, it would be the first time in years that all my siblings would be in the same room.

    We’re Back Together

    The last time we were all together was Katie’s high school graduation in 2012. One of my older brothers had a falling out with my parents and hadn’t spoken to them in years. My other brother had entered the Air Force, living in Iraq, Hawaii, New Mexico, and most recently, Florida. My oldest brother was fighting over custody for my nephew.

    Life had gotten in the way.

    Although I had never been more excited to see my siblings, I had also never been more nervous. Would they talk to me? Would there be a fight? God forbid, would something ruin my sister’s wedding day?

    I’ll never forget how I felt as I walked into the wedding rehearsal. I froze and looked around at the familiar faces. Faces I had grown up with, that I had shared so many memories with, but somehow, they looked like strangers. I can only compare the feeling as walking up to a podium, preparing to give a speech to a 400-person lecture hall. It was nerve-wracking.

    But then, all at once, I couldn’t remember why I was even worried in the first place. My brothers and sisters hurtled towards me, enveloping me in the most loving, warm embrace. I’ll never forget it.

    Despite everything, we’re still family

    I Idolized my older siblings in my younger years, but as I grow up, I realize how flawed they really are. How flawed we all were. But I never should’ve doubted the indestructible bond of family.

    I would never trade the unique dynamic of my family, or the lessons they taught me. I learned how to throw a football (a perfect spiral, might I add). How to flawlessly decorate a Christmas cookie and how to execute an impeccable punch (thanks, Zack). But from them, I also realize the gratification of being an aunt. To not take everything so seriously. To not grow up so fast.

    I learned that these people have shaped me into who I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

    Family teaches you invaluable lessons like how to throw a football or that it’s okay to like stupid stuff. Madeline has ten invaluable lessons that she learned before turning 20, check them out!

  • Articles,, Home Life

    Watching a Loved One Fight for Their Life

    loved ones

    I always knew that I was extremely lucky to grow up with my mom’s parents close, both in proximity and emotionally. Nana and Pops, my grandparents, mean absolutely everything to me. I am so thankful for every minute I’ve had with them and hope for many more, but like everyone else, they are getting older.

    As people get older, they tend to move slower, need more assistance than they did to speak louder or help them with more around the house. That is to be expected. They looked after us when we were young, so we need to look after them as they get older.

    no one is ever quite prepared to watch someone you love dearly deteriorate, both physically and mentally, due to a diagnosis.

    Every Wednesday of my childhood, Pops would pick up me and my brother to take us on an adventure. He would take us to get a snack, usually from wherever he had a coupon for, and to an activity. For years, on every single Wednesday, we went to the museum, the zoo, the riverwalk, or the movies. When we got to middle school, the weekly Wednesday fun stopped and everyone noticed something was different about Pops. Our funny, kind, car-obsessed Pops was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and we were all terrified. What does this mean for him? What does this mean for us as a family? How is he going to stay positive even though he can’t do everything he wants?

    What is Parkinson’s Disease?

    Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by the progressive loss of nerves in the substantia nigra, a part of the brain. This eventually causes involuntary tremors, slow movements, rigid muscles, balance issues, and memory problems. The diagnosis meant that some things would simply have to change, whether he wanted them to or not. He would have to learn how to compromise and ask for help. For instance, my grandparents take pride in their yard. He cannot move around to take care of it, so he uses the lawn mower as transportation. That way he can pick up the pine cones and tend to the flowers. I think the hardest part for him is understanding that no matter how much he wants to do something independently, sometimes his body just isn’t able to.

    As the symptoms progress, his life is altered more and more. He has trouble staying awake, following conversations, and he is losing control of his body. Pops was once a man capable of serving in the Air Force, and now he can’t button his own shirt. But that’s how life goes sometimes. He has been persistent, we’ve been patient, and that’s all we can do.

    I’m proud of my grandpa, because he never gives up. He is fighting with everything he has left. I’m proud of my family for supporting him through anything and everything. Hold on to every moment you have. Support them and love them, even when it’s frustrating. Most importantly, never let them lose their hope.

  • Articles,, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships

    How to Make Your Parents Proud


    Many of the parents I know, including my own, give everything for their children. My parents allow me to go on endless adventures and support me through any opportunities I have. They let me study abroad for the summer, they are allowing me to go to residential school for the next two years, and they are always positive lights in my life. The least I can do is strive to make them proud, right?

    Growing up, I had ideas of what my parents expected from me. Regardless of the amount of truth in these ideas, I agreed with some… but was extremely confused by others. I thought they wanted me to follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a lawyer. Or that my mom wanted me to stay close to home and my dad didn’t want me to ever grow up.

    Me with my dad

    I didn’t know who I wanted to be, because I wanted to be who they wanted.

    I don’t know where I got these ideas because my parents have always been supportive and encouraging in everything I do. Is it even possible to make your parents proud if you don’t grow up to be like them? I wasn’t sure at the time. But yes, it certainly is possible.

    My ideas of my parents’ expectations couldn’t be farther from the truth. My parents always wanted me to be whatever I wanted, with a few actual expectations. They taught me that I could be whoever I wanted to be, as long as I was kind, hardworking, generous, and had integrity. Honestly, I am ashamed that it took me so long to realize what they were doing. They want the best for me, but they wanted me to make mistakes. They allowed me to learn on my own, probably because they knew I wouldn’t listen if they told me directly. My parents never truly placed any expectations for my future, because they want me to be independent.

    I have to figure out my own life, with their guidance, because it is mine, after all.

    My mom and dad’s goal is for me, and my brothers, to be happy, healthy, and love what we are doing. It’s that simple. Although, it’s cliché, it’s true, all you have to do to make your parents proud is be yourself. If I would’ve spent my life trying to make my parents happy, I would’ve missed the opportunities I had to accomplish things that truly make them proud. It is important for me to fulfill my own expectations, with the help of my parents. I take everything I am given to the fullest potential and hope that I can add to their pride, through doing what I feel is right.

    Parents should let their children live their own lives, let children make decisions, and fail sometimes. I know my parents enjoy watching what I can accomplish independently, after learning from them my whole life. I experience whatever is on my own path, regardless of what is on the paths beside me. Dreams have to be fulfilled by the dreamer. You can’t live someone else’s dream for them. The only way to succeed is to follow your own dreams, and have the ones you love support you along the way.

    Spend time with your parents and family! Here are some ways that you can grow closer this summer.

  • Articles,, Home Life, Lifestyle

    The Power of Influence


    Anyone can be influenced

    Oftentimes I hear that children are vulnerable to influence, but that isn’t necessarily true. Adults can be just as easily influenced, but like to think they aren’t. Children are usually more open-minded than adults. This causes them to be more easy going and more likely to go with the flow. However, anyone can be influential, regardless of age. Everyone is influenced, whether they realize or not, by the people around them. It’s natural. Some people are influenced negatively and pressured into doing things they wouldn’t normally do. Others are influenced positively, and stop doing things that they normally do that could be harmful. Others are influenced to do anything, just so they can fit in. Regardless of others’ age or reputation, they still have the ability to influence you both positively and negatively.

    Influencers in my life

    The People that Influence Me

    I attribute most of my positive traits to the people I spend the most time with, who lead through demonstration. Within my family, there are a few women who I am most thankful for. First, my Mom showed me how to be strong, independent, and generous. Secondly, my Nana taught me to make my voice heard, be sassy, and confident. My Aunt Glenna showed me how to be kind, patient, altruistic, and loving.

    I spent the majority of my childhood with my gymnastics coach, Mrs. Ashley, who is my family. She taught me many useful lessons in life, like to always be the best I can be, but always work harder. Not to accept defeat, ever. I will sometimes fail, and that’s okay, but failure is supposed to be used as motivation to conquer whatever obstacle is holding you back. My school teachers taught me about their specific subjects, and also how to be successful and helpful.

    My mom taught me how to be strong, independent, and generous.

    Influence can come from anywhere

    My younger cousin, Hope, reminds me simply just to be happy. Each of my friends taught me something about relationships. Some friendships showed me that people can be dishonest, others just change over time and you grow apart. The best friendships are the ones where you learn something every day, usually just how to love and be accepting. Each experience and person we encounter makes an impression on our lives, but we choose how it impacts us and how we can help others. All of these women created the person I am today, without even realizing it. I hope I can make a fraction of the positive impact they had on me, on someone else.

    Hope reminds me to be happy!

    Initially, I thought influence typically comes from someone who is older, wiser, and more experienced. While that can be true, it also works the other way around. Some might think that discussing the power of your personal influence is conceited, but it really isn’t. Each person has the ability to interact and change people’s lives, so it is important to be positive. I strive to use what I have been taught and help others, even if it’s just through being myself.

    I think it’s safe to say that age doesn’t necessarily determine how much of an impact you have on someone. The age of role models is irrelevant, it is their qualities, and the content of their character that is significant.

    You aren’t just influenced by the people in your day-to-day life, celebrities and social media hold lots of influence too. If you’re looking for inspiring women to teach you about being the best you can be, check out our Wonder Women section, specifically our Sheroes!