Browsing Category:

Lifestyle

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, 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, GirlSpring.com, Lifestyle, School, Social

    How to Find Your People

    three friends laughing together

    Its the end of summer… and we all know what that means. Goodbye summer nights and tan-lines, hello homework and teachers! The start of a new school year can be overwhelming. There’s the slight excitement of seeing all the people you didn’t see over the summer, buying new shiny school supplies, but there’s always some bit of anxiety about the unknown. A lot can happen in the summer, and returning back to school can come with a little stress. 

    The excitement and nervousness that comes with the school year can bring new people into your life. While this can be scary, accept it! School is always easier when you have the people that make you comfortable by your side. It’s not always easy to find your people, and that’s okay. Some of the best friendships in will come later in life, but for now, its time to make the most of the year! Follow these simple tips to keep an eye out for your people.

    1. Don’t be afraid of the small talk.

    It can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. Get all the quick facts out of the way, in order to talk about things that will give you a good indication if you are similar or not! Don’t let the anxiety of small talk prevent you from putting yourself out there.

    2. Find common interests.

    Find out what they like to do after school, how do they spend their free time? You never know who might be super into the same things as you! Exchange sports, hobbies, activities, and see what they like to do. Who knows, you might get recruited for an awesome new sports team or club!

    3. “Is that seat taken?”

    Take advantage of an empty seat! If you see someone sitting alone or with an empty seat next to them, push yourself outside that comfort zone and take a seat. This can be a great way to show someone you notice them and are interested in striking up a conversation! It’s also a great ice breaker to get the dialogue flowing.

    4. Be open-minded.

    Just because someone might not wear the same colors or styles as you, don’t write that person off as someone you wouldn’t like. As I said, you never know who you’re gonna meet. It can be refreshing to find a friend in an uncommon place!

    5. Meet someone new in town.

    There are always families moving in and out of town. If you notice someone you haven’t seen around town, or in school in years past, say hi! Ask them where they’re from and how they like it here. The simple gesture can go a long way for both of you!

  • Articles, Food, GirlSpring.com, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle, Local

    A Gluten Free Guide To Birmingham

    Gluten Free Pancakes

    I have been gluten-free for a little over four years. A first, I struggled to find much to eat at restaurants beside the classic GF meal, a hamburger with no bun. I turned sixteen two years ago and decided that now that I could drive I was going to start finding new restaurants that offered a better variety of GF options. Now, I have found many restaurants that offer GF options without giving up delicious flavor. I wanted to share a list of my favorite GF foods you can find in Birmingham, AL! 

    Breakfast Options:

    • Another Broken Egg has the best GF chocolate chip pancakes. They are so good that sometimes my sister will order them over the regular pancakes.
    • Magic Muffins offers a GF muffin. It is a nut/raisin muffin; though I wish they had a few different options of flavors, it is still a really yummy option.

    Lunch / Dinner Options:

    • Delta Blues is a 100% gluten-free restaurant, and let me tell you, it is my all-time favorite restaurant in Birmingham. They are known for their hot tamales (I recommend the Mississippi Mud tamale), but they also have chicken fingers, wings, and more fried foods that people on a GF diet can’t ever have. I highly urge everyone to try Delta Blues, gluten-free or not.
    • Slice Pizza and California Pizza Kitchen both offer a GF pizza that is quite delicious and worth the splurge.
    • P.F. Changs has an entire GF menu (you just have to request it once you sit down) that offers a lot of the meals on the regular menu with just a few modifications. 

    Snack / Dessert Options:

    • Church Street Coffee’s GF lemon poppy seed bread is unbelievably good. The first time I had a piece of it, it was so good that I questioned to make sure it was actually gluten-free!
    • Red Cat Coffee has a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin and lots of other yummy GF baked treats that are all very yummy.
    • Cookie Fix’s #1 selling cookie, The Healthy PB Cookie, happens to be GF! There is a reason it is their best seller!

    I hope that if you are already GF or looking into what it is like to be GF, this list helped you realize how many options for a GF diet there are in Birmingham! It has been so fun to try new GF goodies and not have to always order the same thing whenever I eat out.

    Looking for more healthy eating options? Go to www.girlspring.com!

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships

    Not Your Average Family

    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, GirlSpring.com, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships

    How to Make Your Parents Proud

    parents

    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, Body Image, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Health, Lifestyle

    5 Small Tips for Loving Yourself More

    body confidence

    Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’ve struggled with my body confidence throughout my whole life. My extra pounds and my acne when I was younger, being taller and bigger than everyone, maybe too muscular when I used to weightlift or having no muscles at all now that I’m recovering from an injury. There’s always something to complain about my body or the way that I look… I can never be truly satisfied. 

    These past few months, after a guy that I was seeing decided to end our relationship because he “couldn’t love me if I didn’t love me”, I’ve decided to change the pattern. See, since I had been feeling the same thing for almost 22 years and it wasn’t helping me at all. Maybe it was time to try something else! And I still don’t know how, but I’ve managed to make huge changes in my confidence. So what better way to celebrate these changes than to share them with everyone else?

    Here are 5 small tips that I’ve used to accept and care for myself more:

    1. Tell the voice in your head to shut up. I know… It’s like every time I look at myself in the mirror, or I see myself in a picture, there’s an instant voice yelling “ugh… disgusting!” Well, it’s time to make a conscious effort to shut it down. I understand it will be hard, but try covering it up with positive thoughts such as “I look amazing!” “I feel great!” At first, it might seem unnatural, but after a while, you can revert the habit.
    2. Take a look at your beautiful self in the mirror. If you feel uncomfortable with yourself, it’s highly likely that you avoid seeing yourself in a mirror. I used to close my eyes a lot when I had to see myself in some sort of reflection. I didn’t want to face what was in front of me. It’s time to quit that: see yourself carefully, every little part of you. Look at yourself in the eyes and get to know who you are. 
    3. Make a list of all the wonderful things you’ve done in your life and what you’re capable of doing. When I feel sad, I remember something amazing that I did a while ago: maybe that time that I did stand-up comedy on TV, or how strong I was in a sports competition. I also take time to be grateful for what’s to come, for the many things that I am capable of doing. Body confidence to me is not about how I look, but about what I am able to do. When you take some time to remember what you’re good at and the things you’re passionate about, you accept your own self more.
    4. Be careful with social media! Social media can be very toxic. When your feed is full of pictures of what beauty is supposed to feel like, or hurtful tips about “how you should achieve your summer body” (ALL bodies are summer bodies!) it’s very hard to get out of the negative spiral. We spend lots of hours surfing through social media, so my suggestion is to clean up your following list. Be careful with who you take advice from, and try to find other inspiring things rather than just pictures of other people. 
    5. Get out. Go for a walk! Work out! Play the piano! Do whatever makes you happy. Appreciate time with yourself, do things that are healthy for you, follow your passions. I find that when I have an amazing day just with myself, I am the happiest when I go to sleep.

    Learning to love yourself can be a long journey, here are some tips on self-care that can help you along the way!

  • Articles, Depression, Lifestyle

    How to Free Yourself When Feeling Down in the Dumps

    Down in the Dumps Girl

    We all have those days when we’re feeling less than stellar. Whether it’s about ourselves, our job or just a current life predicament;it’s completely normal to have moments or days where you’re just not feeling as amazing as you deserve to feel. Since your wellbeing is so unbelievably important, here are some ways to get yourself out of the dumps and into a better mood ASAP! 

    Plan a Vacation 

    Everybody needs a vacation every now and then. Finding time to get away from your daily stresses is so important, especially for your mental wellbeing. Whether you want to plan a weekend getaway or an elaborate trip around Europe, take time for yourself and map out a fun vacation. If you’re not in the place where you can afford a vacation, use the time to plan a stay-cation or simply get out of the house and do something you’ve been dying to check out. No matter what it is or what you end up planning, this will give you something to look forward to along with giving you a chance to enjoy new experiences andget yourself out of the daily rise and grind.

    Embrace Color 

    Color has more of an effect on us than we’re aware of. If you’re going through a phase where you’re not feeling like yourself, color can help be a solution. There have been many studies performed showing the psychology of different colorsand how if you surround yourself with the right colors, it may just help elevate your mood. The most immediate places to add more color will be throughout your house and your office space. Doing little things like adding brighter decor to your desk or swapping your sheets for a more vibrant set can improve your wellbeing. If you’re more of a beauty guru, don’t be afraid to add more color into your beauty routine either. Spicing up your look with a turquoise eyeliner or bright pink lip can be more than enough to give you an extra spike of confidence. The same goes for your hair color. If you’re not afraid of being bold with your hair, apply a vivid new hair colorthat will leave you surrounded by color no matter where you go! 

    Give Yourself a Mental Health Day

    If the way you’re feeling is drastically affecting your day to day, don’t be afraid to take a mental health day for yourself. While trying to give your mind some cool down time with work and other things can be a wonderful distraction, some people find that they need a whole day to reset themselves so they can be the best they can possibly be. Whether you spend the entirety of your day watching reruns of your favorite show or just using the time to get some Vitamin D in with a little extra sunshine, your mental health is all about you so use your mental health day to do whatever makes you feel good. 

    Talk it Out

    One of the worst things you can do for yourself if you’re not feeling great is to keep it all to yourself. To help you feel better, talk to friends, family, your significant other, your therapist, whoever you’re close to in your life about what you’re going through. Some people don’t like to open up for fear of being vulnerable or “being a burden”, but you have to ignore those worries because in the end, that’s what they’re there for! It can be hard to be honest about what you’re going through but opening up will make you feel loads lighter in the end. 

    What are some of your recommended ways to get yourself out of the dumps?