Browsing Category:


  • Lifestyle

    Things to Consider When Dying Your Hair or Getting a Tattoo

    Things to Consider When Dying Your Hair or Getting a Tattoo

    Are you thinking about dying your hair a fun and exciting color? Is there a tattoo that you’re just dying to get? Just stop for a moment and consider your options. You’re probably young and hear adults telling you to wait until you’re older all the time. There may be some wisdom in that.

    I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, I am only here to give you some advice. When I was in high school there was this adorable tattoo that I wanted to drape across my collarbone. It was a myriad of water colors and had a quote by one of my favorite authors at the time. It seemed brilliant. I was determined to save my money and get it.

    Then came the realization that you had to be eighteen or older to get a tattoo. Or you could have adult approval. My parents were definitely not the type to give approval for a permanent marking on my body. They barely let me get my ears pierced at thirteen.

    Please, please, please do not try to deceive a tattoo artist or go to someone who is willing to do the job without parental consent. This is completely dangerous and illegal. Most tattoo artists will be able to tell right away if you’re lying, so you’re really only going to embarrass yourself. And if they don’t realize, then they are doing something illegal without knowing. You could be ruining both of your lives.

    To be honest, a tattoo artist that would tattoo you even with adult consent is either desperate for money or is sketchy. I have a decent number of friends that are or have been tattoo artists, so my advice does not come from a place of ignorance.

    Consider how a few years from now you may not even be into the same things you are now. I am grateful that I didn’t get the tattoo I originally wanted. It would have cost a lot of money and have been a lot to maintain. I wasn’t even responsible enough to maintain my cartilage piercings my senior year in high school. Each person is different, though.

    If you feel completely confident that in two or three years you will not regret your decision, then at least wait until you can legally get the artwork done by yourself. When you start making life decisions on your own like paying bills, choosing colleges, etc. you will be much more prepared to decide what goes on your body.

    Choosing a hair color is a little different. Your hair color can change as often as every six-eight weeks if you want. The advice I have for this is be aware of the chemicals you are putting on your head. I have been dying my hair since I was a senior in high school, so it has been several years. Sometimes I look back and regret my color choices, but anyone can regret hairstyle decisions from young ages. Thankfully, hair color is not permanent. But it can cause permanent damage if not done responsibly.

    If you bleach your hair, try to only do it every so many years. It is not safe to put such harsh chemicals in your hair. It is killing the strands and lasts for a long time. You can still have fun colors in your hair without bleaching it. Also, do not bleach your own head. Watch enough Youtube videos to see how disastrous that turns out. It’s hard to see all the places on your own head and you are not licensed to know all the downsides to it.

    Seek professional assistance when bleaching. Coloring your own hair can be done, but it is always a plus to have additional help. Try getting someone to help you your first few times or go have it colored professionally. It can be expensive to have someone do it for you, but sometimes it’s worth it.

    For additional advice on dying your hair or getting tattoos while young, check out the following links:

  • Confidence, Health, Lifestyle, Sports

    My Figure Skating Journey

    On my third figure skating lesson, I broke my finger.

    It must have been a spectacular sight: my tall, fairly stable body was brought crashing to the ice by a girl not more than half my height and no less than a third of my age. It was really only a matter of time, seeing as I was older than everyone in my skill group by at least a decade. However, I had never truly felt my age until I was kneeling on the ice, finger throbbing, at eye level for the first time with my group mates and trying to comfort the crying young girl who had accidentally tripped me.

    A scenario like this had never really crossed my mind when I entered the sport.

    I decided to take lessons initially because a close friend of mine had introduced me to competitive figure skating as a spectator sport. I would watch full broadcasts of past World Championships and Grand Prix circuits while making art, doing homework, on long car trips, and whenever I had nothing in particular to do. Before I knew it, I had familiarized myself with all of the common terminologies of the sport and had a ranking list for which skaters I expected to win which medals at the 2018 Olympics. Watching the fast, dramatic, yet elegant athleticism of the top athletes reminded me of my days as a dancer in elementary school. I felt my childhood joy reigniting, and decided to give figure skating a shot. Yes, I may have under anticipated just how much time and effort would be needed before I could actually land a Lutz or perform a perfectly executed scratch-spin, but I was motivated like I never had been before and the world wasn’t about to stop me from trying.

    I asked for lessons for my seventeenth birthday.

    Even though the closest rink to me was thirty minutes away on a day with no traffic. I didn’t even own a pair of skates, yet I went to my first class that March. I was aware that I would be the oldest skater in my beginner group, as many of the female skaters my age were already in the professional bracket. However, the swarm of tiny five and six-year-old girls zooming around the ice in tutus caught me completely off guard.

    My newfound confidence dwindled.

    I was in way over my head thinking that I could ever reach the level of the awe-inspiring women I watched so religiously on Youtube. My dreams of standing on the top of a podium with a medal hanging proudly around my neck slipped into the realm of the unattainable. I doubted that I would ever even land a small bunny-hop, much less a graceful triple Salchow. It would only occur to me after I had passed the basic classes and looked back on them, that those tiny girls with all of their talent and potential, probably felt the same as I did. Suddenly I didn’t feel so different from my teammates, despite the fact that none of them could even tie their own skates yet. The throbbing in my left ring finger felt more like the first landmark on a long journey than a detour.

    It has been a year and a half since my first lesson.

    My finger has completely healed (except for a small bump in my knuckle that will probably never go away) and my coach has praised me for how fast I picked up on the technical elements of figure skating. She tells me to breathe before I take the ice for my first competition, and the gold medal I hang over my bed later that day makes me excited for what will come next.

  •, Lifestyle

    Music and the Brain: How it Can Help Memory and Learning

    Music and the Brain

    Have you ever heard a song so well-written that the lyrics put you in a trance? Does this trance lead to a moment of peace? According to song scientific studies, music can alter brain functions, which can lead to better memory, auditory processing, and learning ability (See ). Maybe that one song by Ariana Grande helped get you through studying for your exam last week. Or a classical Yo-Yo Ma piece may have helped you calm down enough to get some rest. Try branching out of your comfort zone when it comes to music and see what helps you feel more stimulated. A heavy metal band might just be what you need to avoid another caffeinated beverage, or a country ballad might help motivate you to love yourself more.

    The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing the right music to make you feel good. Here are some of my favorite bands and artists to check out:

    • Troye Sivan
    • The Cab
    • Florida-Georgia Line
    • Demi Lovato
    • Little Mix
    • Paramore
    • The Aces
    • Red
    • Icon for Hire
    • Hozier
    • Marianas Trench


    Grab a healthy snack (some fruit, carrots, granola bars, etc.), your text book and paper for notes, and a good soundtrack. If you get into a groove where you spend so many hours a day studying and have the bonus of listening to some of your favorite bands, then you might just find your activity levels and grades rising.

    Some helpful tips for securing a good playlist:

    1. Shop around a little bit. Find the music site that works best for you and your budget. If free music is what you are into, then check out premade stations based on your favorite artists (Pandora, Spotify, Youtube).
    2. Mix up your sounds by creating more than one playlist. You can easily make one mixed station but making several sub-playlists will help in the long run, because sometimes you’re just in the mood for one type of music.
    3. Ask for sound recommendations from friends. Someone might be into a band that you’ve never heard of before, so asking opens more doors.
    4. Sometimes cheesy songs bop. Get out of the mindset that something can’t be good just because someone that everyone else likes sings it or because it has a catchy hook. Repetition helps with memory, so sing that song and try to make a jingle for your notes.
    5. Just have fun!
  • Lifestyle

    Hurricane Relief and Ways You Can Help

    Hurricane Relief and Ways You Can Help

    With the recent natural disaster, Hurricane Michael, and even Hurricane Florence, you may be wondering how you can help. It does not matter if you live in the area or if you live hundreds or thousands of miles away from the affected areas, there are still opportunities to make a difference for those who experienced the devastation.

    If you have additional funds available to you, and you would like to donate to disaster relief here are some ways to do so:

    At this time, donating supplies is not recommended, but there may still be local churches that are taking up donations if you would like to help in this way.

    If you are interested in volunteering for this relief program, check out these links:

    If you do not have the time or funds to donate to the relief, you can always donate blood. The American Red Cross needs blood daily, so when disaster strikes it becomes even more in demand. There are plenty of local places to donate for the American Red Cross, and here is a link to find one near you:

    Times like this can be terrifying, but if everyone sticks together and does something, even if it’s small, a difference can be made. I know some retail stores are accepting $1-$10 donations upon check out, so you could even go shopping and still help someone in need.

    I remember when the April 27, 2011 tornadoes tore through miles of cities and left homes demolished and people stranded. It was not hard to want to help then, and I do not think it will ever be a tough decision to want to help in any way I can. I will be donating blood soon and hope to catch the rooms full. Please consider how you would like people to respond to your needs in such a time, but if you absolutely cannot do any of the things listed above, just getting the word out there for other people to try and participate is good enough.

  • 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:

  • 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,


  • Health, Lifestyle

    How To Get Fit For Free in Birmingham and Beyond

    How To Get Fit For Free

    We all know the benefits of exercise. Plenty of studies show just how beneficial it is to our health and well being. Keep in mind that you don’t even need a gym to get fit, and there are ways other than spending a bunch of money on gym memberships in order to keep yourself healthy. Here are some places in Birmingham that offer free exercise classes, and some resources for free online.

    Railroad Park – Yup, this historically located park offers free weekly exercise classes. And if you don’t want to take a class? You get the added bonus of being right next to the exercise equipment in the park, or you can walk/ job along one of the three walking trails at Railroad Park. It also has free parking, which is always nice.

    Mondays is Jazzercise at 6:00 PM
    Tuesdays is Bootcamp at 6:00 PM
    Wednesdays is Zumba at 6:00 PM
    Thursdays is Yoga at 6:00 PM
    Family Fun Fridays is at 6:00 PM

    Click here for a list of their exercise times:

    Hiking – I’m biased. I love hiking, it’s really relaxing and can help you feel more connected to nature. Here are some fun hiking spots in Birmingham.

    Moss Rock:
    Red Mountain:
    Oak Mountain:
    Ruffner Mountain:

    Running Clubs – There are a lot of different options to pick from if you’re interested in joining a running club. Basically you meet up with fellow runners however many times a week and jog together. If you like jogging/ running for exercise, then participating in a run group or club might be a good fit for you. Click here for a comprehensive list of run clubs in Birmingham:

    Cadence Group Run: Every Monday morning at 6:00 AM in O Henry’s parking lot at the Brookwood Mall
    Downtown Running Club: Every Saturday Morning at 10:00 AM meet in front of the Paramount cafe
    Monday Runday Birmingham: Every Monday at 6:00 PM in front of Tin Roof

    Libraries – Your local library holds events all the time. Check their website regularly to see if they are holding any free exercise or workout class anytime soon. Click here for a list of all the libraries in Jefferson County:

    Community Centers – Similar to local libraries, community centers often host free exercise classes (but not regularly.) Be sure to check out the events community centers in your area via their websites.

    Online exercise videos – These videos are for the homebodies that would prefer to stay at home to get fit rather than leave the house.

    The Yoga Collective:
    Do Yoga With Me:

    Learn Martial Arts Online:
    Online Martial Arts Training Videos:

    Hyper’s YouTube Channel (martial arts training videos):
    Global Martial Arts University’s YouTube Channel:

    POPSUGAR Fitness YouTube Channel:
    FitnessBlender’s YouTube Channel:
    Adam Rosante’s YouTube Channel:
    Amanda Russell’s YouTube Channel:
    BeFit’s YouTube Channel:

    To find out what’s going on in your area or find free classes that aren’t continuous, click here:


    Festivals & Events