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FOODIE DIARIES: Take a trip to Paris with Pot Au Feu!

COVID-19 took a lot away from us this year, and the election is upon us (…in just two days 😱) But something Corona can’t take away from you is feeling like you’re taking a trip to Paris. Seriously, practice some French on DuoLingo. Read Sonia Choquette’s Waking Up In Paris: Overcoming Darkness in the City of Light or Age of Light by Whitney Scharer. You could even wear all black and watch Netflix’s “Emily in Paris.” Better yet, if you live in Rhode Island, or if you’re visiting Providence, head down to Pot Au Feu Bistro on Custom House Street!

This Halloween I took it upon myself to wear all black, paired with leopard print booties and took my mom to Pot au Feu in Providence. You go downstairs and you’re welcomed by Bob Burke, the owner, surrounded by an ambience as if you really are in Paris. My mom and I had a table in the corner with a rose perched perfectly in its vase. If tables are close to each other, there is a noiseless, practically silent and unnoticeable air purifier in between tables.

Can we please talk about what I ate, though? PLEASE!

Escargots a la Bourguignonne
Boeuf a la Bourguignon
Crème Brulee, of course!

Then to drink, you can never go wrong with a Pinot Noir! So, anyway, if you’re looking to escape your small town in Rhode Island, or wherever you may be and happen to be in Providence, check out Pot Au Feu. Did I also mention that some of the wait staff speaks French? And they’re extremely friendly!? It was a bon soir for sure! Thank you Pot Au Feu for making me feel like I am still walking on air the next day after a delicious five-star meal. 👍🏼✨

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Starting Over Versus Trying Again With Experience | 4 Years Of This Blog

Four years… wow. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to complete a college or high school degree. For some of you, it could be a Ph.D program! But everyone goes through life differently, it has it’s twists and turns and rotaries (that’s round-abouts to you, those who aren’t from New England!) It took me a bit of time, but perhaps I already knew, who my target market was. And it’s been all of you reading this blog! It doesn’t matter if you’re in high school, college, grad school, or beyond. I mean, hey, I bought my first issue of Cosmo when I was in elementary school! It’s funnier because the issue happened to be the prom dress issue. I’ve accumulated probably thousands of magazines since I was eight years old. Nothing unusual to me, at least.

I tried to start this blog when I left The Odyssey Online in June 2016, but didn’t quite have the words to say, yet. It turns out that a writer isn’t a writer because they say they are. They write because they have something to say — something important to them. If someone else doesn’t like it, that person can “go pound sand,” as my mom would say. My personal experience with writing has been a tumultuous one, at best. However, I didn’t “start over” with writing. I tried again with more experience in the craft.

I posed the question on Instagram, “Do you start over or try again with more experience?” And all of the respondents said, “Experience Necessary.” The same thing goes for getting a job or an internship. People can leave a job for whatever reason. They don’t “start over” in their career, whatever their career may be, though they do have the option to try something different. There’s that word again: try.

You can begin essentially anywhere, but you have to keep trying. I remember trying to film my first YouTube video and I tweeted at Katy Bellotte (whom you all know I admire) “my YouTube video came out like 💩” and she actually took the time to respond to my tweet saying, “Keep trying!” I also remember trying to start a literary magazine. That was a bust. But I used the platform for that same lit mag to create a new one. Yes, I’m full of ideas. Yes, I want to build a magazine empire one day. And I think already did. (Follow @ reallemag on Instagram.)

Say it louder for the folx in the back: I TRIED AGAIN WITH EXPERIENCE! I didn’t necessarily start from scratch. With experience comes the inevitable failure, but you take that failure, forget about it, and you LEARN SOME MORE! For me, I chose a magazine and business track at my grad school. No, I will never give that up no matter what people will try to tell me. I started learning via BonBillo and I have to tell you, it’s an awesome platform to help start and grow your business.

You’re always going to be learning, even when you’re not in school. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true as hell. Think about it, when a poet, like I was in undergrad (and still am on the side), they start out with a rough draft — a really rough draft. Then, they take it to their professor and possibly a peer reviewer. It’s a team. As frustrating as the revisions and [constructive] criticisms are, you end up coming up with something fantastic that can be shared with anyone.

Life is essentially poetry. It can be edited a billion times, you’re going to ask for help along the way, major changes happen, you may regret not thinking of the idea in the first place, but in the end, it’s something you’re proud of.

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If you want something to happen, you have to make it happen.

I realized I never gave an update on graduate school, but I am here to tell you and be candid with you per usual, it has been hard, especially during these uncertain times. Yes, we are living in a pandemic, and I am still following Emerson’s hybrid education model. It is extremely difficult getting back and forth to Boston every Wednesday! Sometimes I wish I only took two classes instead of a whopping three, but that is just the overachiever in me. But everyday I wake up, and I am utterly thankful that I actually get to go to graduate school, that I actually have a laptop that works, even without a battery… long story. Plus, my caffeine-addicted butt gets to enjoy a sip, or a couple hundred, of some caramel or pumpkin spice every stop I get. 

I am not here to complain, but it does get stressful. I get home late, but when I am not in Boston, I am working at my local Dollar Store. As I thought about my move four years ago, I couldn’t help but think that every “leap year” has its ups and downs – for some, they may seem like they only have their downsides. October is the worst of it. You can read my blog post Spooky Season = Anxiety Season? But despite what the ghosts of October tell me, I am not going to quit just because it’s that time of month or whatever. 

During this time last year in October, I wanted to move to the city. That was a bust from the get-go. I didn’t have a job outside of work-study, I didn’t know how to pay bills (I still don’t), and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be a lawyer, like I had planned then. Publishing was always secretly in the back of my mind. I didn’t really have a steady plan, to begin with – just hopes and dreams that I prayed would become a reality. I remember waking my mom up in the middle of the night after having a revelation that I would go into publishing, not law. Days later I was accepted at Emerson, and I went against my own will and bought Shiraz. Again, only you have the power to make your dreams a reality. 

How exactly do you make your dreams a reality, you may ask? 

  1.  A planner does wonders for your organization habits. If your current planner doesn’t already do wonders for you, get a new one! Picking the right planner is like picking the right bra. 
  2.  Start every morning with a mantra. Avoid saying “I hope today is a good day,” and start saying “I know today is a good day.” 
  3.  If you do decide to move like I tried to, look up Fresh Start – The Moving Crew.

Fresh Start – The Moving Crew does residential moving in Worcester County, and the company originates out of cities like Providence, Hartford, and Springfield. Their headquarters extends out of larger regions such as Berkshires, Cape Cod, Long Island, Manhattan, New Jersey, and even the White Mountains! They do furniture moving, commercial moving, residential moving, and even packing! 

Fresh Start

Maybe I am just craving that fresh start to my already-fresh-start that is grad school. There were times where I have debated moving to Paris with very minimal French in my foreign language vocabulary. There were times where I have genuinely thought about dropping out of school, but that would mean losing everything I originally wanted to achieve. I didn’t come this far to give up my dreams of working in a big ol’ publishing company. Your dreams really do deserve to be achieved. Do I even need to include a gif of Shia LeBeouf? (If you know, you already know!) When I do make the move to the city in the near future, I will be sure to call up Fresh Start and book my moving appointment. 

Moral of the story: you can whine in your blog posts all you want. You can try to manifest your desires using water, or whatever. You can pray all you want, but the thing is: if you want something to happen, YOU have to put in the work. YOU have to put in the mass amount of effort it takes to move, start your own business, and get the grades you want. 

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BEAUTY DIARIES: HollyHoux

(Los Angeles, CA.) – A new skincare brand has stepped upon the beauty scene and is sure to be rolling off of the tongues of beauty fans everywhere!  Who might you ask? Introducing HollyHoux, (pronounced “Holly-Who”), that’s who! 

The debut of this new luxe skincare line is something that every woman will want to have in their beauty cache and on their vanity tables!  Colorfully packaged to appeal to women of all ages and backgrounds (teens and adults from Main Street to Park Ave.), with many items in the collection meeting ‘better beauty’ standards of being Vegan, Non-GMO, Gluten and Cruelty-free. ‘Sustainable Beauty’, offering you clean conscious skincare!   Retailing in as $25, HollyHoux brings to the beauty round table everything from scented masks, cleansers, toners, scintillating mists and their “out of the gate” best seller, the revolutionary “Cool Liquid Cushion”, flawless skin pact makeup setter!

Hydrating, refreshing and cool to the touch, the “Cool Liquid Cushion” is ideal for every skin type and with “one tap”, women will instantly see a reduction in the appearance of pore size and the elimination of that greasy shine on their first application!  Through the use of an innovative “water powder” and the combination of 16 types of herbs, the “Cool Liquid Cushion” does exactly what its name implies; it’s cool to the touch, soothes as it’s applied and provides a soft thin layer of protection giving you the appearance of flawless skin without and that heavy, powdery feel, basically you don’t feel like your face has been caked with product — which is always a good sign!

Founder and owner, Jennie Kim, a seasoned veteran of the fashion industry, says. “The Cool Liquid Cushion concept was born out of my search for a ‘makeup setter’ that would simultaneously conceal and moisturize my skin, living in sun kissed California.”

I live in New England, which is the complete opposite of the west coast. But we like to keep our skin moist, too, especially during the harsh winters.

Formulated with key ingredients extracts such as Borago Officinalis, Anthemis Nobilis flower, Rosehip oil, Menthol, Peppermint and Chamomilla Recutita extract, it took over a year of research and testing before she found the exact outcome she’d been looking for!

HollyHoux also has product sets that every beauty savvy customers will want to get their hands on just in time for the holidays with their cute assorted (and refillable) “Refresher Mist” set!

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How Airbnb and Travelers are Redefining Travel in 2021

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on travel in 2020. As we look to 2021, these impacts will continue to be felt in a number of ways. Firstly, continued remote working, and in some cases remote schooling, will upend traditional vacation seasons and blur the lines between working and traveling. Secondly, safety and cleanliness will continue to be top of mind for travelers, driving a preference for private, entire homes over crowded hotels. Thirdly, international travel, especially long haul, will continue to be impacted and finally, having been isolated for much of 2020, people will want to use travel to reconnect with friends and family in safe and controlled ways.

In 2021, travel will continue to be less about tourism and more about living, working and connecting safely away from home. Airbnb is ideally suited to meet these changing needs, whether providing an entire home to take a break from the city, to reconnect with loved ones or to try out a new neighborhood to move to. And its platform allows anyone with space to share to tap into these trends and earn some extra needed income.

 Based on commissioned survey data of US travelers and an analysis of search and booking data for next year, Airbnb is revealing the top three trends redefining travel in 2021:

 Live Anywhere – Taking Life on the Road

In 2021, work from home could become work from any home as remote working continues to be a reality for many people. In the survey commissioned by Airbnb*:

 ●           83 percent of respondents are in favor of relocating as part of remote working.

●        A quarter believe they will be able to ‘live where they want to and work remotely’.

●        One in five of those surveyed have relocated their living situation during the pandemic either temporarily or permanently.

●        60 percent of parents are very or somewhat likely to consider working remotely and traveling with their children if schools continue to be disrupted.

●        Unsurprisingly, Gen Z’ers and young millennial are most likely to believe they can move to a new location to work or study remotely.

One of the ways travelers are taking advantage of this trend is trying before they buy–turning to Airbnb to test new neighborhoods and cities before making a long-term commitment. From July to September this year, there has been a 128 percent increase in guest reviews mentioning “relocation”, “relocate”, “remote work” and “trying a new neighborhood” in comparison to the same time frame last year.

 Of folks who have relocated since the pandemic was declared, 24 percent of them say they moved to a suburb and 21 percent to a rural area, both greater percentages than those who say they moved to cities.* And on Airbnb,  people who have the opportunity to work from anywhere are actively booking longer stays (2+ week trips) in small-to-mid-size cities with access to immersive natural surroundings and wide open spaces, including these trending destinations below. 

●        Park City, Utah

●        Truckee, California

●        Steamboat Springs, Colorado

●        Durham, North Carolina

●        Santa Fe, New Mexico

●        Boise, Idaho

●        Richmond, Virginia

●        Greenville, South Carolina

●        Indianapolis, Indiana

●        Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Redefining the Staycation

As uncertainty persists, domestic travel will continue to be a key trend in 2021, with 62 percent of people interested in taking a vacation within driving distance of home.* Looking back at September 2019 for trip planning in 2020, for US guests, cities like Paris, London and Rome were all top destinations. Next year, a range of domestic locations in national parks, winter ski and beach towns are becoming the most popular, perhaps showing a departure from regular seasonal travel, and a preference for traditional vacation getaway destinations year-round. Some of the top spots include:

●        Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

●        Breckenridge, Colorado

●        Davenport, Florida

●        Palm Springs, California

●        Tulum, Mexico

 Although most travel will remain closer to home in 2021, that doesn’t mean travelers aren’t having new, exciting adventures where they’re staying. Guests are expanding their horizons and seeking unique travel experiences by staying in one-of-a-kind stays on Airbnb. The top trending space types among US travelers next year include a variety of spaces known for using less energy and producing less waste, including:

●        Treehouses

●        Yurts

●        Barns

●        Cycladic houses

●        Domes

The shift to more remote and socially-distanced stays is also reflected in some of the top booked space types. Entire homes have officially replaced apartments as the top space type among guests in 2021, providing controlled, private space for everyone. More off the beaten path stays like cabins and cottages crack the top five space types for 2021 trips, replacing villas and townhouses from 2020.

The Rise of Pod Travel

2020 has made the craving for fundamental human connection very real, and this resonates in how people are thinking about travel in 2021. In fact, relocating permanently or temporarily to live close to family is favored by 85 percent of survey respondents.* And, families are increasingly turning to Airbnb as a way to safely reconnect: over the summer, there were three times more wish lists including family in the title than last summer, and that trend has continued to increase with more than 2.5 times the inclusions this September compared to last year. 

 Whether it means traveling to be close to family members, or reuniting to quarantine with a group of friends, “pod” travel is here to stay for those who want to safely be together while reducing risks associated with socializing with others. For those who have voluntarily relocated this year, 37 percent say it was to be close to family or friends – the most common reason given.* This has become increasingly popular with younger generations, with 61 percent of under-50-year-olds interested in permanently moving and 47 percent interested in temporarily moving to be closer to loved ones.* And on Airbnb, over half of trips searched for next year include three or more people, showing how people are traveling together.

For those who are not hitting the open road, they can still connect with loved ones while apart through Online Experiences. And groups are already finding unique ways to share special moments together, from preparing home-cooked authentic meals, to putting their minds together in virtual scavenger hunts, to sparking their curiosity and creativity through drawing. Some of the most popular Online Experiences groups are taking together from October to the end of 2020 include: 

●        Living Room Legends Scavenger Hunt Game (Austin, Texas)

●        True vs False’ Funny Historical Game (Athens, Greece)

●        Cook Mexican Street Tacos with a Pro Chef (Mexico City, Mexico)

●        Drawn from Within with a New York Artist (New York City, New York)

●        Family Magic Show and Magic Lesson (Chiyoda City, Japan)

Planning for the Future

While travel might look a little different in 2021, future adventures are keeping travelers inspired, with 36 percent of respondents saying they daydream about travel daily or more, increasing to 47 percent amongst people who work from home.* Our research also shows that despite the uncertainty that continues to pervade people’s lives, the more they stay at home, the more the thought of getting out gives them confidence in the future. When asked how planning for a future trip makes them feel, the most selected answer by respondents was simply: hopeful.*

Though travel restrictions are still in place, US travelers are still dreaming of their next far flung adventure, as reflected in the top trending destinations by search for trips in 2021. When the pandemic is over and travel restrictions begin to lift, travelers may be heading to vibrant cultural hubs, idyllic island clusters, and ethereal natural wonders first.

 With Copa América postponed to 2021, soccer fans are eyeing Bogotá, a sophisticated urban metropolis also playing host to one of the final games of the tournament. On the heels of having the top awarded film of the year and the meteoric rise of K-pop, Seoul, South Korea is inspiring US guests to one day experience this dynamic cultural capital themselves. Having to push its 200th birthday celebrations back a year, the state of Maine’s bicentennial events and cozy, quaint vibes are inspiring potential trips in 2021. And after months of spending a lot of time indoors, it’s clear island vacations and escapes to wide open spaces are keeping travelers daydreaming. From the white sand beaches of Maafushi in the Maldives, to the enchanting red peaked landscape of Taos, to the striking Italian island town of Ischia (known for its thermal spas), US guests’ worldly travel aspirations are alive and well:

●        Bogotá, Colombia

●        Seoul, South Korea

●        Hampton, London

●        Tisbury, Massachusetts

●        Maafushi, Maldives

●        Maine, US

●        Salon-de-Provence, France

●        Taos County, New Mexico

●        La Misión, México

●        Ischia, Italy

*Based on a survey commissioned by Airbnb and conducted by ClearPath Strategies from September 15-19, 2020 of 1,010 US adults.

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FASHION DIARIES EXCLUSIVE: 3 Fashion Gifts That Give Back

This holiday season will feel different than years past, with many looking to give back or shop ethically in lieu of traditional gifts. For those who are still looking to find fashionable gifts and accessories, purchasing from the World Vision Gift Catalog is a great place to start – offering a selection of beautiful, artisan gifts for every style of fashionista on your list.

In addition to fighting hunger, injustice and poverty, World Vision is a global humanitarian organization that supports, mostly women, artisans who are fairly compensated for their work, empowering them to seek better lives for their families.

This selection of fashion and jewelry accessories was designed by three female celebrity ambassadors who are joining together to support World Vision’s critical mission; actress Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle), TV personality Sadie Robertson Huff (Duck Dynasty and DWTS) and singer and author Wé McDonald (The Voice).

“Unity” Tassel Necklace by Patricia Heaton

  • This necklace, handmade by artisans in India, features a 24″ chain, 1.25″ x .75″ gray druzy stone, 2″ silk tassel, and starburst charm. Each stone is unique and varies slightly.

“Bonded Together” Tote by Wé McDonald

  • The income from embroidering these fair trade, bonded faux suede and cotton totes helps Vietnamese women artisans with disabilities gain independence. Zipper closure; 16″ x 8″; 9″ drop.

“Circle of Hope” Wraparound Ring by Sadie Robertson Huff

  • This adjustable gold-tone brass ring, made by women artisans in India, provides food, education, and more for the artisans’ families.
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THE FASHION DIARIES EXCLUSIVE: Supima Design Lab 2020 is Going Virtual, Oct. 8

Supima presents the 3rd annual Supima Design Lab in its very first all-digital format, which will take place on Thursday, October 8th and be streamed live on Supima’s Instagram along with Fashion Network. Once again Supima brings together a select group of up and coming and leading designers from around the world.  This year’s Supima Design Lab will showcase exclusive collections designed using American-grown Supima cotton featuring designs by the winner and finalists of the 2020 Supima Design Competition, the selection of the 2020 Hyères Fashion & Photography Festival and by leading International designers. 

Created exclusively for the Supima Design Lab, each design showcases the endless possibilities of fabrics made with Supima cotton. Stemming from a commitment to design, sustainable innovation and superior quality, Supima is unwavering in its ongoing programs that create platforms for designers to express themselves despite the challenges of Covid-19. 

This Year’s Digital Runway show will be presenting “Made with Supima” Exclusive Designs by… 

The Winner and Finalists of the 13th Annual Supima Design Competition :

Amanda Forastieri, Drexel University – This Year’s Winner 

Sakura Mizutani, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising 

Jenny Feng, Fashion Institute of Technology 

Jennie Nguyen, Kent State University 

Terrence Zhou, Parsons School of Design 

Kyra Buenviaje, Rhode Island School of Design 

Finalists of 35th International Festival of Fashion, Fashion Photography and Accessories of Hyères :

Katarzyna Agnieszka (France)Andrea Grossi (Italy) 

Aline Boubert (France)Marvin M’Toumo (France) 

Xavier Brisoux (France)Maximilian Rittler (Belgium) 

Emma Bruschi (France)Céline Shen (France) 

Timour Desdemoustier (Belgium)Tom van der Borght (Belgium) 

Selected Leading Designers  :

Thierry Colson 

Lutz Huelle 

Dice Kayek 

Jean Paul Knott 

On Aura Tout Vu 

As a special addition to this year’s Supima Design Lab, there will be a round table orchestrated by Benjamin Simmenauer, Permanent Professor at Institut Français de la Mode, Fashion Expert & Brand Strategist. The round table includes a select panel of industry leaders for an in-depth discussion of the Supima Design Lab – From the Fields to the Runway.  This year’s panelists include : 

Jean-Pierre Blanc, Founder, International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories of Hyères  

Godfrey Deeny, International Editor-in-Chief, FashionNetwork 

Marc Lewkowitz, President & CEO, Supima 

Buxton Midyette, VP Marketing & Promotions, Supima 

We are truly honored to continue working with our SDC Partner School finalists, the selection from the Festival de Hyères and our Leading Designer group.  During the pandemic, we knew it was more important than ever to stay nimble and shift the Supima Design Lab into a virtual format to support these emerging designers achieve success in the fashion industry ” — Buxton Midyette, VP Marketing & Promotions, Supima 

Supima Design Lab 2020

About Supima : 

Supima is America’s premium cotton. Founded in 1954, the Supima brand, short for “Superior Pima,” designates an elite variety of pima cotton sustainably grown only in the West and the Southwestern U.S. It is prized the world over by designers and discerning consumers who value its resilient strength, lasting color and indulgent softness. 

Follow Supima on Social: 

Instagram: @Supima 

Facebook: @Supima 

Twitter: @Supima 

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PROFILE DIARIES: A Q&A with writer and life coach, Victoria Greenwald

Something you may know about me, other than the fact I tend to publicize my life on social media, is that I am a HUGE people person, and I love to write feature stories. I’ve done one for my rockstar fashion designing friend, Maria Del Carmen Mercado, but this time I chose someone from my hometown (Medfield, MA) who is killing it as a writer and a life coach. That someone is no other than Victoria Greenwald!

A: Where did you go to college and what did you study?

V: I went to Wheaton College, a small Christian liberal arts college in Wheaton, Illinois, and I studied psychology, English, and journalism! I loved my experience there, from the classes to the intentional community. 

A: Describe your writing career.

V: I’ve been wanting to be a professional writer as long as I can remember! One of my earliest memories is writing a short story on an old typewriter in my basement (it was about 4 superhero middle schoolers. Very cool). I decided to major in psychology in college because it felt a little more practical, but throughout my 4 years I ended up adding 2 writing degrees to my studies and all of my extracurriculars and career pursuits ended up in the writing realm. I graduated college with a full-time job writing at The Everygirl, and eventually launched my own blog after switching jobs. Now, I use writing as a huge part of my coaching!

A: What made you decide to pursue coaching?

V: I went to college thinking I’d be a counselor, as working with people through transitions has always been something I’ve been gifted at. I learned early on, however, that my strong desire to give direction and advice wouldn’t really fit into that job (which is great!), so I shifted career paths. Fast-forward a few years when I left my first writing job to work in full-time ministry, I started a blog to keep up the writing. I realized I liked writing about career tips, so I thought I’d offer a resume writing service, which I hated. It was a terrible move on my part — BUT I learned that for the 15 minutes that I got to talk with my clients about their dreams I absolutely loved. I learned that what I wanted to do was coaching, so I found a certification program that specifically helped me learn how to coach people through a Gospel-centered lens and I’ve been off to the races since then! 

A: What are you working on now?

V: Currently, I’m building out my business. I work with clients 1:1 in tailored programs, and I’m working on a self-paced course that’s all about purpose and vision. 

A: What do you have to say to those who are working on their spiritual growth?

V: Spiritual growth is a life-long process, and that’s really beautiful. We have an innate desire to be known and loved, and to know and love in return — God is the only being that satisfies in both directions. Pursue Him with eagerness and curiosity, that obedience will never be returned void! 

A: What do you have to say to those who are in the writing profession?

V: Pursue excellence. Everyone can call themselves a writer these days, so make sure that what you’re contributing to the written world is of great value. Lots of us writers know that we have a million things to say, so I encourage you to use discernment in saying what needs to be said, not just what can be said (and said well, you wordsmith you). If you’re just looking to get into writing as a profession — practice! Write the kinds of stuff you want to write in the future, even if no one is paying you for it. Interview your friends. Write an op-ed on a political issue. Start a blog! There are many avenues for you to grow and learn. Learn to be self-motivated and pursue being great at your craft.

A: What was your goal, prior to your current vocation?

V: Such a great question — I wanted to be the Editor in Chief at Elle magazine! That was the goal. It’s so funny to see how I’ve shifted from writing for my own glory to writing as service to other women.

A: What has influenced your spiritual lifestyle?

V: I give a lot of credit for my early experiences with Christ to my parents. They love Him and they wanted me to know and love Him, too, so I got lots of exposure to Bible stories and life transformation from them and from my church when I was younger. Once I was off to college, it really became my responsibility to keep following Christ on my own, and He has impacted my life in such incredible ways that I had to keep following Him. He is the reason for my hope, for my joy, for my purpose! 

A: What would you say to those who are trying to be as confident and successful as you? Or growing their own brand, like yourself?

V: Confidence comes when you’ve defined success correctly. For me, success is serving my God and the people in my life every day — and the means for me to do that (coaching, prayer, friendship, working at my church) bring me SO much joy. I know that I am a part of God’s incredible plan for the whole world, and that takes a ton of pressure off of my shoulders to be the hero. For the gal who is reading this wanting to grow a brand: remember to only be pursuing things that serve your actual goal. What do you want? Know the answers to that before you start taking action steps. 

Big thanks to Victoria for the pictures, as well as the extremely thoughtful and candid answers! You can read Victoria’s blog and view her coaching services here.

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“This Is Not Going To Be Perfect. It’s Going To Be Powerful.”

Investing in yourself is not only important, but it can also be insanely expensive. This is the second paycheck I’ve gone through (almost completely) to follow my dreams. Yes, I actually have a job that’s not writing-related that actually pays me. No, I do not get paid to write, though I wish I did. I bet that was a shock to you folx.

Moreover, one of the things I invested in, ($179 a month to be exact) is a book-writing class. After getting out of our weekly ZOOM session today, I found myself in the midst of a conversation about the archangel of anxiety: perfection. I preached in a previous blog post, EMPOWER NOT TOWER: “Go big or go home?” Is it really worth sucking on bone marrow? , more or less that perfection isn’t worth losing yourself over.

I can’t help but wonder, why am I so afraid of judgment if I don’t strive to be perfect? The simple answer is: I get judged either way. I shouldn’t say “I,” I should say “we [get judged.]”

I’m the only one in that book writing class who’s still in her twenties. In fact, my twenties are just getting started with me venturing into grad school. What’s funny about that, is public transportation is completely foreign to me, as are some parts of Boston. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, as you all know, but my carefree years took place in small towns. I was completely oblivious to looking both ways before crossing the street. (My kindergarten teacher would not be proud.) In a similar way, I’ve become oblivious to having a plan set out for my book. I confessed today that the “sandwiching” doesn’t work for me. Again, as you all know, I’m like an ocean — choppy and free-flowing… and with a whole lot of depths to my story. So there.

There’s that string of poetry in Jessie J’s “Masterpiece,” those who mind don’t matter/those who matter don’t mind. I’ve lived by those lyrics since my senior year of high school. Those same lyrics apply to those who I am trying to help with my book. Essentially what I mean by that, is (and this goes for all of you future authors out there) your soon-to-be biggest fans/readers are not going to care if you’re some sort of grammar wizard. What they care about, is that you helped them. Take Danielle Bernstein for example. I saw many publishing errors throughout her book, but I still loved her story about how she became a household name in the fashion industry, and among influencers. Her book helped me build “The April Diaries'” baby sister, Candidly Worn. (Yes, I threw in a little self-promo.)

What we concluded with today was this phrase: “This [your story] is not going to be perfect. It’s going to be powerful.”

Every story is different, and you have one to tell!

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EMPOWER NOT TOWER: Stop judging and observe.

I remember when I first got a Facebook account, I put Britney Spears’ “Circus” lyrics in my bio: “There’s only two types of people in the world, the ones that entertain and ones that observe.” At the time I put that as my bio at the time not because I was a “budding performer,” but I was constantly feeling “watched.” No, I was not paranoid. However, the unwonted attention actually fed my ego. I wrote it off as jealousy.

I was talking to my manicurist today, and she was telling me how her sweet daughter (though I haven’t met her, she seems like a true gift from God) was bullied for being both smart and athletic. This young woman earned MVP in Lacrosse, Soccer, and Basketball. Impressive right? The parents of other kids were so green with envy to the point where one parent called her a “stupid bitch” on the sidelines. My initial reaction was not just “that’s horrible!” but I did mention how in my old town in Massachusetts, the parents talked more smack about the kids than the kids actually did. And I’m NOT the first person to say that, which is the funny part. But nonetheless, what right does someone have to say such a thing about someone else’s kid?

This made me wonder: why do we live in a world where we constantly judge/are being judged. Why can’t we just simply observe?

Seriously. Let people go on about their daily business. It’s easy to be so quick to judge, but it’s a habit that you can break with ease. I learned how to do it within an hour after watching this video by Isabel Palacios. Like I said in my last post, you are entitled to your opinion without being an a-hole. There’s a huge difference.

Observe because you don’t know what that person is going through internally. Don’t judge because you’re only hurting that person’s self-image and self-love. Don’t say that’s “their problem.” You may feel entitled to judge, but that judgment is fueled by your own insecurities.

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I was so angry, I couldn’t write.

I couldn’t write. I couldn’t find the words appropriate enough to describe my anger. I was, and still am, angry at the ignorance, racism, xenophobia, trans-phobia, and everything else that’s BEEN plaguing our society for CENTURIES, even more so than COVID-19. I couldn’t even find a filter for this thumbnail to hide the rash that broke out on my face just now.

I am furious.

My “philosophy,” or I guess “wisdom” behind this, is that if you’re not angry, you’re just not paying attention. Period. And if you’re not “political,” you’re not paying attention.

I can be as angry as I was prior to writing this. Hey, I can write, after all! So, what do I do? I take small steps. 🦶🏼

This includes posting stories to Instagram, writing posts like these, but more importantly, sticking up for what is right and fighting against what is unjust. Four words: do the right thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But there’s a difference between having an opinion and just being an a-hole.

But as I reflect on my own behavior on social media, I realize there were a lot of things that could’ve been left unsaid, especially when I was in high school. We make mistakes — all of us. We get angry, we then regret, and some of us have the empathy to say “I’m sorry,” even if it takes months to find the words. However, the things left unsaid could be either unnecessary, or they could be uncomfortable. And the thing about the discomfort is that it helps us to grow. Even the most uncomfortable conversations are the ones worth having. I’ve known people, and I’ve been the one to cry when they get mad. But that’s when you know you’re, again, doing the right thing.

It’s okay to cry and feel when you’re sticking up for what’s right, especially when it’s for another person or for yourself.

xoxo,

April 💕

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The Fashion Diaries: What I’ve bought since I’ve been home

Feels like it’s been a hot minute since I posted! But I mainly wanted to give my voice to those who might seem voiceless during this time. That is why I made my Patreon page. For every patron that subscribes, I will donate $1 to Black Lives Matter Boston. In return, you will get free iPhone wallpaper, desktop wallpaper, resume design, cover letter design, and book cover design! Join for $3 or $5 a month!

So let’s hop on to it! 🐰 What have I been buying in my quarantined time? Also, happy first day of SUMMER for those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere!

  1. Yoga Mat

Did you know they sell yoga mats for a cheap price at your local Ocean State Job Lot? I didn’t know either! I’ve had mine for two weeks now and it’s still going strong! It also really helps for my ab workout sessions (and bedtime yoga too!)

2. Kimono

Who doesn’t love a good cover-up? This helps for your sunburn-self at the beach as well as dressing up any black tank top and jeans combination! Also, who doesn’t love a good snake-skin pattern? You can get one at Walmart for under $20!

P.S. don’t mind my messy desk!

3. Fresh new sneakers!

Let’s see, they’re blush-colored and sparkly… could any sneaker be more perfect for me? You can get a pair too at JustFab.com!

4. Steve Madden bag

Yes, my friends, TJ MAXX is FINALLY open! Yay! Yes, I will be using this bag for my graduate classes at Emerson College!

These are only just a few!

Stay tuned for a fashion special!

xoxo,

April 💕🥂

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Losing a phone cannot compare to the lives lost to police brutality

I never thought I could live without my phone, until roughly two weeks ago when my phone kicked the bucket.

However, I want to speak out on what has been going on in our country. Normally I would take a week to write a blog post, but I muted my social media accounts only to amplify Black voices and to raise awareness. The last time I used my blog for something political was Trump’s election in 2016. Click here. Something else you should know about me is that you may allow me to consider your opinion(s), and who knows? Maybe I might. I’m considered a pretty open-minded individual. Moreover, you cannot take away my voice. So here I am.

The April Diaries does not tolerate bigots, racists, etc. Period. That is how I was raised and I was raised not only liberally, but also to do the right thing. I grew up in 20 out of my 24 years of life in a small, predominantly white town with very little diversity. I was actually shocked to find out that my small hometown actually hosted a rally in defense of BLM. For those of you saying that the protests haven’t been “doing much,” it actually accomplished a lot. It reopened Breonna Taylor’s case, and four officers were arrested for the senseless murder of George Floyd.

Nonetheless, even when I was small, I did not question once whether or not a boy or a girl, a man or woman were of a different colored skin. What mattered to me was that they were human, and they were living and breathing. I’ve been saying prayers for ambulances rushing by since I was in kindergarten, and before that phrase became popular on social media. Who knew Black lives would be taken years after that, if not during my adolescence and I just didn’t hear about it?

I may not be able to fully understand, but I stand, see, and speak with those who are victims of injustice.

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What I wish I knew before starting college

As some of you may know, I am officially a college grad. It feels so surreal because I’ve been in school since I was 5! As I write this I remember going into my prospective preschool with my Molly doll from “The Big Comfy Couch.” I also remember going to preschool and kindergarten every day with painted nails and perfume on. Funny how things come full circle, eh? I’m no pretentious ditz, like people made me out to be in middle school. More importantly, how marketed myself. If you haven’t read Getting Real About Fitting In. SPOILER: Standing Out Is So Much Better I highly suggest you do, because it’s more or less of a “Wish I’d known then what I know now.” In fact, my post grad life has been a “wish I knew then what I know now.” This notion also pertains to college. Don’t get me wrong, my college experience was overall a fantastic experience, filled with growth, friends, memories, with a side of heartbreak(s), the inevitable college weight gain (which made me love my body more), and the big entree: transferring. The dessert? Self-love. Yet again, it is 100% natural to reflect.

What I wish I knew before I started college, and maybe some of you can relate, or at least learn from it include….

  1. Indulge in your creative side more, especially freshman year.
  2. If you can, go in undecided.
  3. Science and math in college are both hard.
  4. If you decide to tell people you’re switching your major, only tell your best friend and your parents.
  5. For Pete’s sake, don’t declare a major because you saw it in a dream.
  6. Taking a gap year is 100% okay. Again, wish I knew that!
  7. With that being said, if anyone has anything snarky to say about that, there’s that phrase, “those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind.”
  8. Even if you’re in college and you have to take a semester, or even a year off, that’s okay too!
  9. It’s okay to not have a boyfriend in your freshman year of college.
  10. Avoiding your ex isn’t worth starving yourself.
  11. Stick with learning a language, even if you’re totally FOREIGN to it. See what I did there? 😜 Learn Spanish AND French, if you want!
  12. Have someone who will tell you that you’re overdoing it with the drinks. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fun/funny drunk, someone still has to tell you.
  13. Put that elementary school health class knowledge to good use and keep it in the back of your mind that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  14. That means not getting in the car with someone who’s been drinking, letting someone walk you home, and not getting in the car with someone you met online for the first date.
  15. On that note, staying sober in college would be worth it. Easier said than done (thanks, peer pressure) but it’s totally fine.
  16. On another related note, if you’re dating someone and they’re “too tired” to walk you home, make them walk you home anyway and tell them to stop being a wuss.
  17. Don’t spend all your money on coffee, especially if you don’t have a meal plan.
  18. Again, on that note, there’s more to cafeteria food than pizza and salad.
  19. Don’t stay up late studying for an exam. That may have worked in high school, but in college? You’ll cherish sleep like no other, so that’s a NO.
  20. Practice your writing, it’ll help especially when you declare your major in an English-related field.
  21. Adverbs don’t belong at the beginning of a sentence.
  22. M.L.A and Chicago have a not-so estranged cousin: A.P.A. Don’t worry, it’s totally harmless.
  23. Yes, there are more than two pronouns. Get over it, bigots.
  24. Go to the gym outside of your gym. In fact, go to the gym period.
  25. You will learn what it’s like to be a “broke college student,” and yes you will have to explain yourself to people.
  26. There are some aspects of life you needn’t to explain. You know what those are.
  27. Don’t expect everyone to understand your circumstances.
  28. There WILL be people who misunderstand you and why you try to do. Prove them wrong and be ready to argue.
  29. Find a cause and be an advocate.
  30. Donating blood is fun and fulfilling!
  31. There will be a pandemic in your senior year of college that will cut your year short. Don’t worry, since I commute, I didn’t really miss much.
  32. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people. It’s not abnormal.
  33. You CAN do anything you set your mind to, even if it does take trial and error.

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Stop “should-ing” yourself because everything happens for a reason

This is my last hoorah for classes in my senior year as I officially end classes tomorrow (Tuesday — Wednesday for some.) It’s so bittersweet to end classes, nonetheless my undergraduate career this way, especially during a pandemic when you can’t see everybody in person. As you look at the title of this post, it’s true: things do happen for a reason. And in COVID’s case, it started out with a bat. I spent many hours, many days, crying for a reason, and it was simply because I felt trapped in this situation. But we all do in some way or another. This isn’t me being selfish. However, this doesn’t compare to three years ago, when I made the right move for myself: to transfer colleges.

When I found myself transferring to RWU, I found myself “should-ing.” What I mean by that, is that I found myself saying to my mom on accepted students day, “I should’ve applied here for undergraduate in the first place.” I also found myself saying, “I should’ve taken a gap year between high school and college.” Neither of those is true, so I needed to stop saying “I should’ve done this, this, and that.” But who knew that two years in a row, I’d be nominated to speak at Accepted Students Day? I sure didn’t, at the time because I was so miserable. However, that was just the universe preparing me for the best that was yet to come.

The day before an [virtual] awards ceremony, my mom told me that despite my trials and errors throughout my college career and the things I’ve been through, the good and the bad, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all these things. None of these things would have led me to RWU, my best friend, my boyfriend, and my overall happiness. Something can feel like a bad situation to a full 100%, but there many different percentages of how you can handle a situation. In the end, things don’t seem to be too terrible! You will feel a lot of feelings — anger and resentment with a mix of ecstasy, and your “messenger nerves” will have you twirling like a circus girl around your living room. These ostensibly “terrible moments” are actually the universe’s way of saying, “I’m preparing you; the best is yet to come.” Who knows? The “best” can completely blindside you. But a common phrase other than “everything happens for a reason,” that I use is “there’s always sunshine beyond the rain.” Seeds have been planted before the [month of] April rain and look! May flowers!

In short, you’re not stuck nor trapped. You’re just in the groove of blossoming. 🌱

xoxo,

April 💕

 

 

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Take an apple and put it in your own words

Today’s the two-year-anniversary in which my poetry professor told me I have an “authentic and strong voice” in my poems, which led me to write my 60+ page thesis on docupoetics in 2019. Doing a thesis was difficult but after a heartfelt conversation via Instagram Live with my rock star fashion designing friend, Maria del Carmen Mercado, I came to a realization about writing, in general.

She said to me, take an apple and observe it. If you have to write about it, do it. However, don’t write about what society thinks about an apple. Don’t write about what your family thinks about an apple. What you think of an apple, is on YOU. It’s the same thing with fashion designing, for all my fellow fashionistas out there. You can research and get inspiration from any fashion designer, but what they did has already been done. With writers, it’s the same deal; you can research all you want for your book. But what other authors have already written about is already out there, no matter how much you try to put it into your own words. How do you feel about something like, love? Friendship? Marriage? Genocide? Every president of the United States that’s ever lived and served in Office?

It’s hard to tell what we’re feeling about a certain topic when we’re so influenced by other people. We can have our own opinions. We’re not stupid. And we’re certainly allowed to disagree with other people. Social media definitely plays a factor in how we are influenced. Oddly enough, I had a dream about dresses. Perhaps it’s because I’m not trying to spend my money on clothing, though I did “splurge” on an Emerson sweatshirt that I’ve always wanted when I was applying to graduate school (it was only $42.) Nonetheless in my dream, dresses were being judged. But again, who cares what other people think? Dress up for YOU, girl!

I said this in my very first blog post, The Art of Communication, but not communicating how you, yourself, feel about a topic means losing a part of yourself. Your argument gets lost in a sea full of other people’s second-hand research and opinions. This is especially what you need to avoid when writing a paper. Needless to say, this applies to my English Literature majors who are reading this, as well.

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15 Things To Do To Survive Quarantine

It feels like we’ve lived a full year in the past week, doesn’t it? And it’s only March 19th! So another thing happened, Tom Brady is no longer a Patriot, but a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. I promise this post will be less of a “brain dump” and “trying-to-process” post, like Thoughts on the Coronavirus: is 2020 the new 2012? No, we are afraid of fear, itself. The past two weeks have been turbulence of emotions and uncertainty. I just got off a Zoom “tech rehearsal” for my Senior Art Studio class, and I have to say, it’s better than nothing.

But other than that, here are some good tips on how to survive “staying at home” which is now referred to by the CDC as “quarantine.”

  1. Have a Chick Flick marathon!
  2. Have a horror movie marathon!
  3. Get take-out from Chomp
  4. Support artists
  5. Take a virtual tour of Versailles (I did that in person 6 years ago!)
  6. Download a book from NYPL
  7. Take virtual tours of art museums
  8. Start from a stack of books you have in your room already and work your way down! I recommend anything written by Rebecca Serle, especially In Five Years!
  9. Learn how to bake and cook!
  10. Facetime a friend/significant other
  11. Watch anything on Disney+
  12. Stop perusing social media so much! This only gets on your nerves more!
  13. Spend some time with your pets, especially if you have a cat like mine
  14. Do yoga at home
  15. Meditate
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Thoughts on the Coronavirus: is 2020 the new 2012? No, we are afraid of fear, itself

So, I know most of you are tired of hearing about the Coronavirus. I, personally, do not have Coronavirus, but I think it will be like the H1N1 Virus (which I did have, and no, that was not the bubonic plague of 2009.)

But why do I bring up 2012? Simply because, that, my friends, was the year people thought the world was going to end according to the Mayan Calendar. I mean people thought the world was going to end in 2000 — didn’t happen! It was just simply the turn of a century, which people were afraid of. And it’s no doubt that people were afraid of 2020 — the turn of a decade that we’ve known all too well and have gotten used to. I’ve never taken a look back on the societal norms of that decade, except for my own personal events which you can read about in Coming to Peace With Your Past|A Decade in Review . I think we are all afraid of change. We expect so much to happen, yet we are brought with bad news all over the place. Kobe Bryant passed away with his daughter, Gianna, along with a few others in a helicopter crash. Tom Brady became a free agent and we don’t know (for those of you who live in New England) if he’s going to officially come back to the Patriots. Schools around the area in which I live have closed and will resort to classes taught online until further notice. The world is scary!

No, change is scary. Let’s put it bluntly, simply, and to the point. Everything is online, including some classes that we’ll need to pursue in order to finish our degrees (for those of us graduating in 2020.) Some people may think I am biased when I say that domestic violence and abusive relationships might be considered normalized — no. This is just simply an analogy I’m using. But the overuse of social media? Very much so. I wrote in a paper for a theology class in senior year of high school, that people act out of fear. Is fear what makes us post on social media? To make out China or Mexico (where the Swine Flu originated) to be such bad places? Is fear what makes us turn away from that one scene in The Blind Side? Is fear what makes us not watch Freedom Writers? Is fear the one thing that stops us from doing what we’re meant to do? Think about it.

“They encourage students to find their own and present it to the world. In the process, Freedom Writers acquire general academic and life skills while becoming responsible for their own lives and happiness, overcoming social disadvantage.” 

Plain and simple: we avoid fear to just stay in the comfort zone. The comfort zone is fine, but is that what makes history? Is that what made every woman they are today? Every man, likewise? For all of you, sports fans out there: did Kobe Bryant have this fear of entering the NBA draft? Did Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. ever have this fear of being 199th in the draft for the New England Patriots? Let me know. The point is, we don’t know in hell what the future will bring. There’s that.

xoxoxo,

April 💕

Also, title credentials go to the boyfriend, Steve! Check him out at https://www.believeinbostonsports.com/author/stevea1127/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8cfbBgXIow

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19 Things To Do On Spring Break In RI (budget-friendly)

If you’re living in RI, like myself, there are plenty of things to do in such a small state! I’m partial to things to do in Bristol, specifically, so RWU students, take notes!

  1. Go to Newport
  2. Go to The Beehive
  3. Apply for summer internships (tedious, I know, but you’ll thank me later)
  4. Get a coffee or tea at Empire
  5. Go to Chomp in Warren (they also do take-out
  6. Enjoy a night at Aidan’s for some nice, Irish nosh
  7. Go to Colt State Park (it’s warm all week here in Bristol and less cold on the dock!)
  8. Binge some “Katy Keene” on CW when you feel like staying in — it’s a GREAT show!
  9. Read something that you don’t have to read for school! I recommend Such a Fun Age  by Kiley Reid
  10. Drive to Boston
  11. Go to a diner for breakfast
  12. Get yet ANOTHER burger at Judge Roy Bean Saloon
  13. Drive to Sommerset to get something from SONIC
  14. Get some bagels! I’ve been obsessed with them recently!
  15. Pull an all-nighter… without coffee or alcohol
  16. Eat on Federal Hill
  17. Go to Seven Stars’ Bakery in Pawtucket or Providence!
  18. Go to Wayland Square
  19. Enjoy some French food at Le Central 

Did some of these already! Have fun, Rhode-Islanders! 😉 The best is yet to come… could that actually be springtime?

xoxoxo

April 💕

 

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Stop Looking For Validation From Others | Evil is in the Ego

For the past week, I’ve found myself saying out loud, “can’t anyone give me enough credit for ______?” Whether that be job hunting, seeking help, and showing up even when others expect you to quit.

My therapist gave me a handout. And that handout was a story called “The Awakening,” author unknown. I’ve read a lot of stories about ostensible “awakenings.” But this one made me want to watch “A Cinderella Story” for about the hundredth time because it reminded me so much of it. Moments prior to this, I was crying because someone told me “can’t you do something that will make people happy?” And this person tried to trick me into saying they didn’t say this. This had me screaming into my pillows on my couch, and you people would have thought I was nuts. That’s the one “question” I knew I was going to get one day, even though I always do my best, despite my anxiety, depression, and PTSD. THOSE AREN’T LIMITATIONS, EITHER. 

What I am learning right at this very moment is that there are people who want you to fail. There are people who want the worst for you. There are people who are going to be jealous of you. There will be people who disapprove of what you do. There will be people who have opinions based on their own insecurities. It’s a rude awakening, indeed. But the fact of the matter is that it shouldn’t matter to you, even the better of us who know better. As the internet philosopher Katy Bellotte says, “Nothing hurts unless you let it–” that was one of the first things I heard her say when I first started watching her videos.

Oddly enough, what I said after said person said that unbelievable comment was, “I knew I would never get your approval.” As if I ever really needed it. That goes to show, careful what you say, or it will end up in a blog post, or worse, my memoir. C’mon, there’s even a sticker on my laptop that says that, so you should know by now. I’m not being vindictive, it’s called having self-respect — enough to stand up for yourself and do things for yourself. I once apologized to someone after saying, “I have way too much respect for myself as a woman and a human being to be led on…” Why did I do that? Was it human nature in me to be empathetic? Maybe it was the need for approval after hurting someone? What the hell am I even saying right now? I didn’t validation from someone who led me on! However, and this the human nature part, evil really is in the ego and could make you think you did something wrong when you did, in fact, do something right.

What I’m essentially trying to say is that you can have a support group, but know your boundaries. There are some people who will cross some of those very fine lines. You may or may not have to let people in more. You may or may not have to say “f*** it.” As I said in my very first post, The Art of Communication, self-awareness is key. I learned all this by researching social media posts for RISC. Even social media wants you to be healthy! Who would’ve to think that? Speaking of social media, stop comparing yourself to other people.

source

 

 

 

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Self-Doubt, Influencing, Overthinking, and Jobs

Do you ever feel like you doubt your career path? No, I’m not doubting mine (again, thank God), I KNOW I’m going to be a lawyer, just not right away. And by right away I mean I’m going to LAW SCHOOL in Fall 2021.

As I am listening to a Katy Bellotte podcast, I’m remembering that I randomly brought up my blog to a friend of mine in my art history class (hi, Amanda!) That’s something I normally never do, unless I feel 100% comfortable with you. (I showed Steve my blog when we first started talking, so that alone says a lot about us!) One thing she asked me is if I ever get “Imposter Syndrome,” to which I said, “yes and no,” and went on to say that I wanted to be an influencer and promote all of these brands that would never give me the time of day. But really, I want to influence people to be the best version of themselves. Improving yourself does not come from an article of clothing, though it is nice to build those sorts of connections with people who own clothing and jewelry lines.

This was me about two years ago. I wanted to be an influencer. But the only way to make an impact was to influence people to make a difference; this is especially true if you’re a college student like myself. I worked a “Table Time” the other day, and it dawned on me there are the people who are willing to be, as one person said, “a part of the community,” other people are just there for the mass amounts of chocolate spread out on the table. As some of you know, I do a lot of sexual violence prevention work. It’s more than a hobby for me; it’s a need to make a wave.

I talked about this a little bit in Unstoppable | How I’ve Been After a Month’s Hiatus, but I am SO afraid of tests that I actually have test anxietyyes, that’s an actual thing which is why I have extra time on tests assignments — something that people are so ignorant to, it drives me nuts! Thus, I was afraid of taking the LSAT, and trust me that no book could tell me to “calm down” and “it was going to be okay.” Being on the Student Senate, however, being my mother’s daughter, and knowing my own potential taught me that I got this. But being “high functioning” and needing extra time on things is another story that I don’t have time for.

It’s the unfortunate art of overthinking that tells us, “no you don’t” or “you don’t have this, this, and that to succeed.” Yes, you do. There’s no such thing as “oh, this is an [insert major here] job” or “this job is only for those who have worked in a law office.” Then why would these jobs be posted on Handshake? Or whatever your school uses for job-hunting? Who cares if your major is Creative Writing and you apply for a Legal Assistant job? (Yes, I did that via LinkedIn.) We, “creative writers,” can do anything we set our minds to, such as thinking creatively and independently. Don’t doubt us for even a minute.

In fact, overthinking got me thinking about my own job history. I used to think I was “too good” for a job like working at Dunkin Donuts, Sip ‘n’ Dip, etc. (I spent my teenage years in Massachusetts so I didn’t even know what Sip ‘n’ Dip was — LOL.) But it wasn’t even that I thought I was “too good,” it was more so that I had so much, even infinite potential. In fact, in my sophomore year of high school, I was applying to be an intern for Boston-based fashion designers. All the letters I got back said that they moved. Really? Even Giselle Bundchen started out scooping ice cream and became a (now retired) Victoria’s Secret model! She didn’t even need to be Tom Brady’s wife in order to be a household name OR make money. She makes more money than her husband!

Just know that you aren’t “stuck” in your dreary job forever. And don’t let self-doubt be your reason for why you didn’t do something to benefit your life.

And that’s the tea. 🍵

xoxoxo,

April 💕

 

 

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Not Such A Bad Thing To Fall In Love

Contrary to what I said two years ago about ostensibly “hating” Valentine’s Day, I actually have always loved this holiday. Even when some kid in fifth grade said “a lot of people throw Valentine’s cards away,” I said, “I save them,” which prompted another kid to say, “seriously?” Why not? People paid money for them, and even if they were “obligatory,” they still had some thought behind them.

I even remember being in elementary school and hating the idea of love, even though I secretly had a crush on Cole Sprouse during his “Suite Life of Zack and Cody” days with his brother, Dylan, Brenda Song, and Ashley Tisdale.

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Hey, um, elementary school April? Did you even have experience with love? No. You won’t even have your first love until you’re 19.

I love this holiday because it’s the one day, if not every day, that you can express your gratitude for someone you know. (I’m not saying I particularly “liked” anyone in elementary school.) The thing is, when you show gratitude for someone, they’re willing to do more and vice-versa. It’s more or less of a give-and-take game.

Maybe I was just a closeted hopeless romantic. I remember one of the only things I wanted after the eighth grade was to have a boyfriend, not that I was desperate. I was yearning for the real, romantic-with-a-mix-of-friendly love that I didn’t quite get till now (i.e. my current boyfriend — hi Steve!) On that note, I am grateful to the love I share with him. Despite the last two “chapters” of my life, nothing was quite so meaningful until him.

I feel like I’m fulfilling my Carrie Bradshaw “status” in writing about love. But the truth is, love has no set definition. It’s all that you make of it. It’s not always what you see on television and in the movies. It’s challenging, but it’s a good challenge. It’s funny because it actually is give and take. It’s not really about sex, either, which is not in accordance with popular belief. Some choose to wait, and some choose to do it. But either way, communication is also key to conveying what you want. In fact, I felt as though it were just tonight that my boyfriend and I were getting to know each other all over again. Whatever it was, it felt right.

My point in all this is not to conform to popular culture, or what seems “cool.” In the end, it’s all about what’s right for you.

 

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Things You Will Learn In College, As Told By A Second Semester Senior

Ahh, the things you do when you wake up at 5:30 A.M… draft a blog post that will actually help people? While watching “Sex and the City?” It’s like sophomore year all over again!

One episode of “Sex and the City” deals with 30-something-year-olds dealing with 20-something-year-olds. Carrie Bradshaw, being in her thirties, proposes the question, “Friend or Foe?” My first answer? Being a 23-year-old, WE’RE STILL LEARNING HOW TO NAVIGATE LIFE! GIVE US A BREAK! My second answer, maybe if you looked back on when you were 23, and what you knew, you’d empathize with us. You’re probably looking back on the mentors you had when you were in your twenties. These mentors could’ve been anybody. If you’ve just started college this past fall, or if you’re in a gap year, these rules of thumb should apply to you; you’re not left out! I said a lot about college in For the College Student(s) Having Doubts but there’s more where that came from!

  1. You don’t have to be a double major because it sounds cool.
  2. You don’t have to have a boyfriend freshman year.
  3. A “C” really isn’t that big of a deal.
  4. If you go to your professors with personal problems, you’d be amazed at how understanding they are.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and question EVERYTHING. That is your job as a college student, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If they do, make that argument.
  6. Not every professor understands mental health, but it is just as important as physical health. If you’re in a situation where a professor is ignorant of a mental health concern, tell somebody.
  7. Join a physical activity, no matter if it’s intramural or not.
  8. With that being said, try something new! Like a sorority or something.
  9. Internships are not only cool, but they give you a “leg up” in the real world.
  10. You will cherish sleep like no other.
  11. If you’re not 100%, or even 99% in love with your college, transfer.
  12. End of February-mid March and October are by the far the worst times of the school year. Why? Midterms! But the hard work will pay off.
  13. Don’t let anyone call you stupid, not even your closest friends.
  14. If any underclassmen give you shit, just smile and say “that’s cute/that’s cute you think you can intimidate me.” They should not be treating college like high school.
  15. Seek out that upperclassman you’ll look up to.
  16. BE the upperclassman that students look up to, for the right reasons.
  17. It’s 150% okay if you don’t “party.”
  18. If any high schooler from home asks if you “party,” tell them that’s not what college is all about.
  19. Getting drunk is yet another thing college isn’t about. The last thing you need is a hangover.
  20. PLEASE call your mom and/or dad, or your brother and/or sister. They miss you.
  21. PLEASE use your work-study to your advantage! Otherwise, it just goes to waste. Plus, it’s extra money in your pocket.
  22. You will have that mentor through work-study/payroll whatever you have! They’re important and will teach you everything you ever need to know.

So the final answer is, we twenty-something-year-olds want to be your friend! When in doubt, think of me as your mentor 😉 No, I’m totally kidding. But going into my second semester of senior year starting TOMORROW, these are some of the things I learned throughout my college career.

 

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“Wait, Let Me Overthink This.” Raise Your Hand If You’ve Ever Been Victimized By Overthinking.

“Thoughts are the seeds of action.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thoughts do not dictate reality, however. In fact, in my opinion, and in my journey through spirituality, our masculine energy (or “the thinker”) makes us crazy! It’s simple: we think too much. We need to learn how to feel and tap more into our feminine energy.

We are now settled (most of us, I hope) into a new decade and year. We are out of the stressful holiday season, and into the new year. As some of you may know, I’ve been practicing ways to further my spirituality. But I have to admit, it scares me at times. I’m not trying to be a psychic, but I’m just saying, as someone with chronic anxiety, it really can be nervewracking. The fact of the matter is that it shouldn’t be so nervewracking that you start to overthink. I was even thinking about the concept of overthinking while I was making ramen and eggs (which tastes DELICIOUS!) I came to realize, you’re basically setting yourself up for self-sabotage.

Why are you questioning what’s already right in front of you?

Now, I am addressing why I can’t ever seem to “make up my mind” about my career, until just recently. And by “recently” I mean last week. Here’s the thing, though: I’ve always known I wanted to work with domestic violence victims, which is what I’m doing. There. I know what I want, I just needed to stop overthinking. In fact, just writing this post brought me back down to reality. Everything is fine. Repeat after me, everything is fine. Inhale, exhale. AND JUST BE GRATEFUL. Write it down, do something because you are doing great. You don’t even need a psychic to tell you that.

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Moreover, I am fulfilled completely as-is. Don’t question whether or not the universe has your back or not. You also need to have your own back. That isn’t to say other people won’t, but trust me, you’re good!

xoxo

April 💕

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Word of the Year: Intention | What will you contribute?

One of the first things Ricky Gervais said during his opening monologue (with a rather large alcoholic beverage in tow — this just goes to show how much people like to get plowed at the Golden Globes), was not to make any political remarks. But let’s be real, was anyone going to take that seriously? The answer is no. In fact, the Golden Globes, for as long as I can remember, have been a platform for celebrities to encourage viewers at home to not only vote but to take action politically. The 2018 Golden Globes especially, everyone wore black for the #TimesUp movement.

Everything that these celebrities said, especially Michelle Williams’ speech on the importance of women voting, was said with intention. The word “intention,” often shortened to “intent,” is not a word thrown around quite often. The words “letter of intent,” appear a lot on graduate school applications, though, as well as job applications. As I am writing this, I am thinking, what do people intend to do with their master’s? Ph.D.? Blog posts? Such as this one?

For me, my intention when writing is to inspire. There will never be a day where I stop writing or creating. It’s scary that in just 16 days, I will be a second-semester senior. The feeling of it is just starting to dawn on me. Do senior scaries exist? Let me know.

I realize I’ve gone back and forth throughout my college career; what to major in, what clubs I want to join, whether or not I wish to go to graduate school, to study abroad (which I didn’t end up doing), and more importantly: what I want to do for a career. What I am coming to the conclusion is that I want to keep riding my pathway to help victims of domestic violence.

Another question that comes to mind is what is my life’s intention? Easy. To help. So, in the words of Robin Williams’ (R.I.P.) famous character, John Keating:

“To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Well, what would it be? What will you contribute?

 

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No one’s going to tell you what to do

I’ve always been a dreamer, as a kid. My “goals” in the first grade were to have three cats and live in Disney World — only to have that dream come true on Olympic Day 2013, at my high school, when I dressed up as Sleeping Beauty/Aurora and I lived like Belle: always with a nose in a [chemistry] book. I had two cats at the time. No, I did not live in Disney World.

Even in first grade, I dreamt about finishing college. I’m less than 180 days away from that, as we speak. The first time I ever had to put that on a halt was Spring 2017. The one thing I was never 100% sure of, was what I’d be doing for a career.

I can tell you this: when I first started college, I thought I’d be an oncology doctor until I was getting a warning grade in Biology and I switched from major to major. Everyone knows by now that I study Creative Writing, nonetheless at another college than I started at. With that major, everyone expected me to be an author or an editor. I thought about being an editor for a while, only to find myself on Student Senate.

I honestly don’t remember how exactly I came to be a “future lawyer,” all I know is that I want to help people.

I learned from a fellow Instagrammer that in the end, I take ownership of my life and what I do. I don’t need anyone to nag me that I need to pick a career right away, which is why I feel better about taking a year off. All I need to have is a plan B, C, D, etc. I can tell you right away that plan B may not work out for me as planned, but maybe plan C will!

Sometimes bloggers need life advice, too! But no one is going to tell you what to do, that is if you let them rule your life, which no one has the power to do.

And that’s the tea. ☕

xoxo,

April 💕

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Certainly Not the Same

“As I sat in the booth of Quito’s with my mom, we decided to cheer, or ‘clink glasses,’ [I wasn’t yet, 21] to no regrets.”

This was written around this time three years ago at the beginning of what I like to call “Book 2,” a.k.a when I switched my major to English and I was still at SAC. Now, I am 23 years old with a whole new mindset, law school applications, and more!

I am reminded of the same “Sex and the City” phrase every single day: “You can’t stop being who you are because you’re afraid.” For those of you who have been there with me from the beginning of this blog, you’d know that I started this blog shortly after a tumultuous and insidiously controlling breakup. I basically lived a “Sex and the City” lifestyle, minus the infamous sex. (For clarification, I’m still a virgin). This includes dying my hair a dark brown and giving myself a whole new “look.”

One fellow writer of mine posed a question on Instagram not too long ago that asked, “when you die, would you rather be remembered in small snippets of someone’s memory or a statue?”

Remembering this question, and I’m not trying to be morbid, but that me that I was referring to in that last paragraph was just but a ghost of all the women (or girls, considering I’m in my early 20’s) that I used to be. I’m listening to Katy Bellotte’s latest podcast episode of “Thick & Thin,” appropriately titled “Feeling hopeless & redefining yourself.” That me that I was referring to certainly felt hopeless and tried to redefine herself from “so-and-so’s ex-girlfriend” because I certainly did not want to be known as an accessory. Katy alludes to her ever-popular YouTube videos, and she, too, mentions how she changed.

Let’s face it, she and I both graduated from the “cutesy talk,” and we both discovered alcohol come college. However, she did also say there is no shame in being vulnerable, which is something I’ve learned to preach, as well. And as we age, we really do change! Time moves us onto bigger and better things, and we learn, develop, and edit. What mattered a year ago doesn’t matter to me anymore. What mattered two years ago no longer matters, and so on. It’s all about how you redefine and market yourself, as I mentioned in Getting Real About Fitting In. SPOILER: Standing Out Is So Much Better.

That me wanted to be who I am today. I just had a friend tell me that my Instagram makes her happy because I don’t put up any fronts and that I’m all about spreading positivity — hi, Allie! I have my moments, who doesn’t? Whoever doesn’t have their moments is clearly robotic.

Moreover, I realized who I am, and I have the stamina and motivation to fulfill that persona. Except, I don’t have to be a persona. I may not be the same person I was 2-3 years ago, but I am me. In fact, things are going so well that I lost track of what book I’m on. Quality, not quantity, people!

 

 

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Spooky Season = Anxiety Season?

Hello, (A)pril-listers! April here with my first post of the month of October (mainly procrastinating two essays! Yikes! I’m here, to tell the truth about October. October has always been my “worst month,” but it hasn’t been completely terrible beginning in 2017.

October is not only pumpkin spice season, but it is also known as “spooky season.” That term has been thrown around a lot since October’s beginning. But could this ostensible spooky season also be known as anxiety season?

There is no doubt that I suffer from anxiety; I’ve been very open about it. The one thing I get anxious about the most is uncertainty, and this is especially true this week as I spend my free time in between classes prepping for the LSAT. I have narrowed down to [lucky] three law schools. But that is beside the point. October seems to serve as a crucible for students, like myself. Did I mention it’s also Mental Health Day? Perfect timing, April! 👏

My mentor/professor was right: sometimes I do bite off more than I can chew, as they say. In fact, I sat in my therapist’s office, eyes barely open to let tears come streaming out of them. I was exhausted from being super busy. Needless to say, I had to cut one major activity out of my life, which was a shame because I wanted to try it and hopefully make a difference. But as it turns out, I already was making a difference in making my campus safer, one step at a time, according to another mentor of mine. I could go on about how “hustle culture” is extremely toxic and only leads to the inevitable “burning out,” which I have done on more occasions than I can count on ten fingers.

How one perceives of October is a choice, and it’s all about how you make of it. It’s not a fact that October may be a s**tty month because it’s merely a statement of opinion. When you say something often enough it becomes true. This is a manifestation procedure, as said in spiritual terms. It is your choice to make the spooky season less “spooky” and less “anxiety-provoking.” As I sat down with one of my mentors, she mentioned that you have to have self-care methods, this may include a mental health day as well as a cup of green tea with milk and sugar. It just goes to show that talking to people helps, too! I certainly don’t need a degree in psychology to know that there are methods for dealing with each emotion.

Moreover, enjoy “spooky season” while it lasts, and don’t let it become an anxiety season. If it does, use your resources and always ask for help when needed. 

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Week In The Life of a Blogger/Busy College Student!

It has been two weeks since I posted a blog post. You can definitely say things have been busy according to the April Diaries! With that, it is the last weekend of September which only calls for something I promised a long time ago… a week in the life!

Monday

11:00AM: Work-Study! My job is being the editor-in-chief of the English/Creative Writing department zine, “Voices.”

*Depending on the day, I also work table times for clubs and Student Senate*

1:00PM: Queer Theatre and Drama class!

6:30PM: Student Senate meeting!

In between class and Senate, I have time to do homework or go home and chill for a while.

Tuesday

9:30AM: Advancing Public Argument class!

11:00AM: Another work-study meeting!

12:00PM: LUNCHTIME! I usually get a Chicken Ranch Wrap or Sushi.

2:00-3:20PM: African Literature class! I have been waiting so long to take a course like this!

3:30PM: Get (a billionth) coffee of the day. Have you ever had the Pumpkin Spice Chai from Starbucks???

5:00-6:20PM: Math class! As mentioned in The Correlation of Hummingbirds, Dancing, and Algebra, I’m taking (guess what) College Algebra!

6:30PM: Women’s Collective for Violence Prevention and Victim Empowerment Eboard or general meetings! I serve as Vice President of the club!

Wednesday

11:00AM: CPC (Community Partnership Center) Publication meetings!

1:00PM: Queer Theatre and Drama class!

2:00PM: Academic Affairs meetings! This counts as one of my Senate committee meetings.

3:00PM: LUNCHTIME! (Late, I know).

4:00PM: Finance meetings! This is another one of my Senate committee meetings.

*Depending on the Wednesday, I usually have to go to meetings of clubs I represent, CPC full-staff meetings, RISC or Title IX meetings*

Thursday

9:30AM: Advancing Public Argument class!

2-4:50PM: How to Write Your Novel class! This is one of the classes I have to take as a Creative Writing major.

5-6:20PM: Math class!

8:00PM: Hawks’ Herald Eboard meetings (though I am not technically a part of their executive board, I still have to go because I’m their Organization Senate Representative). This is also the school newspaper (that I took a break from) but I chose to write for them, again!

(Fabulous) Friday

9AM-12PM: My advocacy internship at Day One Rhode Island!

1:00PM: Queer Theatre and Drama class!

2-3:20PM: African Lit!

3:30-4:30PM: Senate office hours!

Finally, let the weekend commence!

Saturday and Sunday

The weekend usually varies for me. Saturday’s I’m most likely doing homework, studying, writing, or hanging out with a friend or two. Then Sunday is the day I set aside to hang out with my boyfriend (hi, Steve!)

 

 

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The Correlation of Hummingbirds, Dancing, and Algebra

Yesterday morning, before I went to campus for class, I watched a Hummingbird gracefully and peacefully without melee, go from one orange flower to another. There’s something about Hummingbirds that’s very underrated. Growing up, I admired how beautiful they were, despite my natural adherence to birds. They surprisingly don’t creep me out! Hummingbirds are iridescent and no one would even think to harm them because they’re just simply “doing their thing.”

After looking up their significance and symbolism, (that’s just the analytical writer in me bleeding out), they actually represent a lot more than we realize. Just take a look at this site I found: https://wootandhammy.com/blogs/news/hummingbird-meaning-what-does-a-hummingbird-symbolize-spirit-animal-meaning

Hummingbirds can fly backward as well as hover up and down. We, humans, have a tough time being able to “fly” at all. There’s this lyric that I love to quote, “sometimes you fall before you fly.”  I keep forgetting that song is essentially the “theme song” to a Disney Channel Original Movie with the same name (spoiler 😜). I haven’t seen that music video since, what, second grade? This not only reminds me of being in an elevator but also of algebra and dancing.

Let me start with algebra before I get into dancing. I wasn’t always good at math. I then realize I had it in my mind that I wasn’t good at math because I haven’t done it in a while (3 years to be more specific). I have a lot to learn in College Algebra, I’ve found from taking a knowledge test. This morning as I was finishing up the first lesson, I had flashbacks of my eighth-grade algebra teacher breathing down my neck and saying, “you need to pay more attention to details.” I wound up completing the entire lesson with a few minor setbacks. Why? Because I wasn’t paying attention to the small (but important) details. The same thing goes for dancing. I was selected to choreograph a dance this semester for Dance Club. Shortly after I completed the lesson, I began to “map out” where my dancers would be and where on the stage they’d be traveling during the course of my choreography. It’s hard! But it’s like algebra: a form of problem-solving. And if you get one detail wrong, it messes up the whole dance! Both can be tough, too. But you have to practice, practice, practice, and seek help when needed.

Referring back to the beginning, as a Hummingbird is going from one flower to another, they are determined to find the sweet, savory nectar beyond the tedium of the roughness and the toughness of a flower. Flowers have layers, too! (Not to mention tough layers). I can name so many times where I’ve said to myself (doing algebra) “this is so tedious!” But how are you going to understand it, if you don’t go through the whole process of solving a math problem? When I did the Boston Ballet camp the summer before my freshman year of high school, I thought the conditioning before the actual ballet lessons were tedious. How else is your body supposed to be ready to dance if you don’t warm-up and stretch?

Skin is tough, and there is that phrase, “thick-skinned.” But guess what? You’ll be able to do a pirouette and floor-work, and even get an A in math because you did the work! Who knew?

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THE FASHION DIARIES: Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Oodles of VINTAGE

It’s been a hot minute (more like almost a YEAR) since I posted a Fashion Diary entry, which is ironic because I’ve written my own personal journal entries practically every day this summer.

Despite PSL’s being back at Starbucks, along with the Maple Pecan Lattes and the newly-raved-about Pumpkin Cold Brew, summer is not quite over yet. Wait until Monday, September 23, guys! My summer fashion choices have been relatively laid-back, with the occasional dress or two, or three. 😜 It wasn’t until recently when my grandmother sent my mom and I packages of clothing that didn’t fit her anymore. For those of you who know me well, I love vintage fashion. So, needless to say, I was fascinated by my grandmother’s impeccable taste.

The first thing that caught my eye was a black and white polka-dotted dress

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***Please excuse the dirty mirror and, of course, the mirror selfie***

Then there’s the makeup look then went with it:

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Not only do I adore fashion, but I am a HUGE makeup junkie. This is actually the same lipstick that Audrey Hepburn wore in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” It’s Revlon’s “Pink in the Afternoon.” The blush, bronzer, and highlighter are from IT Cosmetics and the eyeshadow is from Bare Minerals!

The next thing that caught my eye was a long skirt:

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It’s hard to tell what the pattern is, but rosewood is one of my favorite colors (number 5 to purple, blue, pink, and red). You can’t even tell I’m wearing a skirt and top because it all flows so well! The top is from H&M and the shoes are from ZARA.

Then there’s the makeup look that went with it:

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With natural waves (my hair is actually straight, but if I sleep on it when it’s wet, it gets wavy), and the right lipstick, I rocked this look with confidence. The lipstick is Colourpop x Disney’s Tiana. Shout out to my best friend (hi Katelyn!) for surprising me with it!

 

 

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EMPOWER NOT TOWER: “Go big or go home?” Is it really worth sucking on bone marrow?

It was a Tuesday morning and I woke up an hour later than intended. I wanted to get up early, put on some makeup, and put on a cute dress to take over the createHER Collective Instagram story for the day. That didn’t happen exactly as planned, but I handled it better than what my expectations were the previous day.

I ended the night signing off to watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” but also signed off with a whole lot of new perspectives on empowerment and the phrase, “go big or go home.”

The first time I ever heard that phrase was on my very first day of high school when one of my teachers talked about the time she broke her vegetarianism to eat a huge burger — bone marrow and all.

But should we really go by this phrase? The answer is no, and I’ll tell you why.

I remember going by this phrase when applying to undergraduate schools — didn’t work out! I followed this phrase when I started submitting my poetry and artwork to the top literary magazines in the country — didn’t work out! That’s when I started looking at smaller publications that I never even heard of until I joined Twitter again. Those definitely worked out (and helped me build a killer CV to use for grad school apps if I do say so myself.)

When looking at graduate schools too, for my MFA, I had that same superficial outlook that I had when I was a junior/senior in high school. I wanted to apply to (and googled) “Best MFA schools in the U.S.” But coming from a “small-but-bigger-than-SAC” school like RWU, who knows if I even stand a chance? What I learned, especially from being in the [insert 2 Ivy League schools here] applicant Facebook groups, just because they are ostensibly the “best,” “top-tier,” and “among the elite,” that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for you.

My point in bringing up undergraduate and graduate institutions is that it’s not worth gnawing on your thumb right to the bone marrow to prove yourself — to anyone or anything. I was reminded of a poem I wrote:

Perfection is a weakness of mine

To be honest, when I was in high school, I strived for perfection and I’ll be honest it gave me a little OCD!

I’m trying to gnaw on this idea of being perfect;

I chew it down right to that savory bone marrow

until there’s nothing left to even suck on anymore—

at this point all I’m doing is sucking on that

circular piece of bone. The bone is in my right thumb

and I’ve sucked on it so much to feel like I’ve lost

all feeling.

 

Perfection is like sucking on a piece of bone marrow—

you cleanse it of all the meat and the cells that go with it,

until there’s nothing anymore. It becomes addictive,

like a fidget toy. People tell you you’re doing great by

cleaning it and getting all the necessary juice to make you

feel manly, accomplished, whatever. Then you become

addicted to being perfect and receiving that praise.

Even when you feel like you’re unappreciated, just know that you’re doing a great job and people really do appreciate what you do and how hard you work. If they don’t, it’s their loss!

Moral of the story: PERFECTION IS UNATTAINABLE!

 

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The Truth About Writing Full-Time | You Have A Purpose

I’m starting to realize why writing for a living can be tough. Often times, I denied that fact and thought I could do whatever it takes. But I’m not giving up, even though it really is hard and can make you feel a tad manic. I’m not trying to be an Ernest Hemingway, who was a quote-unquote “abusive alcoholic.” And yes, I just quoted “Ten Things I Hate About You.”

For those of you who don’t know, I recently published an eBook of poems. No, this is not a “self-promotion.” This is where I get real. Again, unfortunately, it may an eBook for the rest of its existence. It wasn’t the way I wanted it to come out, mostly because I was trying to self-publish with little to no money. In fact, I published it without spending a dime! I personally don’t know of any authors who self-published and were successful, except maybe Rupi Kaur (correct me if I’m wrong.) Self-publishing is hard! Really, it is. You know what’s harder? Making it as a writer. I’ve had trouble making it as a blogger!

Everyone knows the story of J.K. Rowling and how she got into writing. If you know me, you’d know that I am a sucker for literature and the authors that compile some of the greatest works of all time. I write this as I look at my unread copy of War and Peace sitting on my shelf along with Moby Dick and On the Origin of Species, all of which I am determined to read and conquer one day (or within multiple days.) Two summers ago, prior to starting my career at RWU, I read Ernest Hemingway and Jane Austen excessively. Like myself, Hemingway was a budding journalist before realizing he wanted to write creatively.

I remember when I was still at SAC, my Spanish professor heard me quote Ernest Hemingway (in Spanish) and she strongly encouraged me to write for the campus newspaper. This was a week after I started this blog. Again, as I’m writing this, she’s not the only one who recognized my talent in writing. How am I just realizing this? I don’t know.

But Hemingway was more than an alcoholic, even though it was highlighted in some of the characters of his novels and short stories. But that’s the thing with us, writers. We build based off of personal experience, which may seem like it’s hard to write at times. Coming up with content, even for a blog, is hard. There are touchy subjects that need to be shared in order to empower. Hey, I think I just came up with my reason for #WhyIWrite. And that’s just the thing! You write for a reason, no matter if it’s sports journalism, technical writing, grant writing, travel writing, creative writing, etc. You write because you have a purpose on this planet. That’s the same concept of why people teach young minds, serve in the military, etc. — you have a purpose. Any profession is hard, but you’re doing great.

 

 

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Conquering Anxiety And Achieving Well-Being, Overall

In “Sex and the City: the movie” Charlotte mentions to Carrie she hasn’t been running because her anxieties about life are stopping her. I remember when I wrote Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management, I was in a terrific state both physically and mentally, ultimately providing myself with a healthy lifestyle by working out (almost) every day and getting a salad and drinking plenty of water. Come to the end of that semester, I found myself falling off the rail and into some (very) unhealthy habits. This was due to the stress of finding a job and taking a whopping SIX CLASSES two semesters in a row. This only led me down the rabbit hole of doubt. It wasn’t until the end of the Spring 2019 semester, that I learned the importance of balance (which may seem like a course on repeat.)

Balance is essential. Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand and balance each other out. Your education, relationships (with yourself and other people), work, and overall well-being need equal attention, which can prove itself to be difficult. No one is 100% “on top of their sh*t” 24/7. Nobody’s perfect. Life happens. But it’s important, like I said in Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again — the title speaks for itself! And can I just say that drinking a lot of coffee and/or alcohol does NOT help? It doesn’t. In fact, it’s actually self-medicating.

The best kind of medication without making yourself sick is 1) tea and 2) therapy. Tonight I saw a tweet by a fellow writer who was struggling with health anxiety and (for ladies, only) period stuff with accompanying physical ailments. That accurately described what I was feeling this afternoon (and prompted me to write this post.)

On the topic of therapy, I see my therapist every two weeks, just to check-in. I’ve been going to therapy since I was a freshman in high school. I’ll be honest, there were extended periods of time when I ignored therapy and didn’t make appointments. Let’s be real, a diabetic doesn’t not take their insulin because they “don’t have time.” With mental health, it’s the same concept. I remember when I used to always keep saying “I don’t have time,” and “I don’t have time to ‘make time!'” For this, this, and that, I kept using that same excuse. In fact, when people told me I needed to make time, I got pretty annoyed it hit a nerve. Now, I’m understanding the importance of it.

This brings me to my next point: you can as they say in the movie, “Tammy,” “bitch and moan” about something, or, you can do something about it. As I used to preach all the time in my Insta-stories, if you want something to happen, YOU 👏 HAVE 👏 TO 👏 MAKE 👏 IT 👏 HAPPEN.

NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing is impossible, remember that. And as to paraphrase what it says in the Bible: “The LORD helps those who help themselves.” Life is truly a blessing. So live it to the fullest and in the healthiest possible way.

This is an example of what I like to call a ROUTINE:

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No, you do not have to get up at 5:30 AM unless you’re really feeling ambitious. But a routine helps to ease the anxiousness.

In fact, by the time this goes up, I will be in bed getting my beauty sleep and getting up at a good hour for a jog.

Thank you for listening to my “Ted Talk.”  😊

xoxoxo,

April 😘💕

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School Starts Soon (Plus Healthy Tips On How To Stay Organized and ‘On Track’)

It’s that time of year again when back-to-school commercials start airing on television and everyone is dreading the thought of going back to school, no matter if you are in middle school, high school, or college. I’ve grown from being that nervous-as-hell first-grader, not knowing what to expect to the point of tears to actually loving the first day of school/classes!

I value my education more than anything in the world, and it’s become imperative for me to get the most out of my college education. No, I do not mean partying. [What may surprise some people is that I’m not exactly a “party girl.”] I’m not shaming anyone who does, but I’m telling those high schoolers who read my blog that it really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and not what college is all about, no matter what films try to tell us.

Nevertheless, what I mean by getting the most out of my college education is getting involved and getting good grades; then there’s the occasional “letting loose.” One thing I’ve learned, as said in Burnt Out, is how to stay organized. I mentioned in that particular post that I was constantly tired — not because of the 8:00 AM Management classes — but because I didn’t have a set schedule nor did I have a to-do-list and often gave into my anxieties and napped a lot. I’ve come to realize that having a set and pre-filled agenda is a must-have when you’re a [busy] college student. Thus, I went to CVS on a whim, bought an extensive agenda, and filled out the month of August to the best of my ability.

Take a look:

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Bullet journals help, as well. Plus, they’re extremely fun to fill out!

But don’t forget to fill in time spent with friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, and family! Needless to say, I’m not even close to being done filling out the month of August, yet. And this is just August — wait till you see my upcoming “week in the life” coming in September!

If you do find yourself burnt out and exhausted while doing homework, go for a run/walk, grab yourself a smoothie, coffee, soda, etc. and get back to doing your work. On that topic, it’s important to nourish yourself throughout each and every day, without breaking your budget, of course!

Be productive. It’s okay to fall off the rail once in a while and just be bored and sit in one place, so that’s why I chose what I explained in The Two Tips To Achieve Self Love, and to have something to do each day, aside from classes. Go to the gym, volunteer, or read a book (yes, those still exist. Reading is fun!) Yes, I will be posting weekly in accordance with my schedule. It’s not enough just to think about what you’re going to do every day; you need to write it down and it will happen. It’s like making yourself a promise, as well as manifesting, which I touch upon in Self-Care and Spirituality Tips. Mercury is luckily out of retrograde this time around, so no worries here!

As always, I wish you all Godspeed and best of luck in school, no matter what year/grade you’re in.

xoxo

April 😘💕

 

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A Reflection: The Girl Who Has Always Wanted To Write, Even If It Kills Her

Can you believe the year is more than half-over? It’s officially August 1, and I still can’t believe it. There are twenty-seven more days until I start my ~official~ senior year, and it hardly feels real! As I’m getting ready to apply to… get ready for it… GRAD SCHOOLS, I’m starting to realize what I really want to do — what makes my heart sing. I said in It’s Time To Speak Up About Creativity, that I’ve been diving into my creative side a lot more this year (and for the past two years of college, for that matter.) #CreativeWritingMajor

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. It was my second-grade teacher who first recognized that I loved to write. In fact, it was one of our spelling words and she said as an example, “April loves to WRITE.” I remember getting those Scholastic book order forms and my mom wanted to rip me apart for just wanting journals. Don’t get me wrong, I like to read, too, as it helps me with my writing. In fourth grade, I might’ve been the only one in my class to write six-to-ten pages of a story because I had so much to say, and so much detail to convey. However, I kept saying my favorite subject was math.

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I kept denying my teachers’ comments that math wasn’t my favorite. But they could see right through me. More importantly, they could see my proficiency in writing.

Looking back on that past self, why would I lie to myself like that? If I could just shake that fourth grade April and just tell her to admit that she’s not great at something, I honestly would. But even fourth grade April knew she liked to write, but just wouldn’t admit it for some weird-ass reason. One of my poems was used as an example for future classes! I remember that poem; it was called, “What is a Wish?” To this day, it was one of the best poems I’ve ever written.

Even when I wrote my first short story in first grade, I dreamt about college. In fact, the story took place after I had just finished college. Well, I have a year to go and I know this: I want to write. Always have, always will. I read this great article in Cosmopolitan about a woman who was determined to make a living out of writing. Never have I ever read a story and said, “this is me. I want to do this.”

I randomly look back at old Theology assignments, particularly from junior year, and I came across this excerpt:

As Jesus once said, “make use of the talents God gives you.” Now, I look back on my past and laugh about what character I tried to portray because that was not my God-given role.

I have had various hopes and dreams about what to become, as an adult. I am always curious about what college or university I will attend. And, I always thought that I would have to face the future alone. But I do not. God will be with me, guiding me every step of the way. God will plan my future with me. God will not let me throw away any of the work I have done, the talents I have obtained throughout the course of my life, or the grace I have received because He already has a plan for me: to study medicine. God knows where I am going, but He wants to surprise me. If I do not get into the college of my dreams, God will be crying with me. No matter where I go to college, or in life, God will always be by my side. God will help me make good decisions throughout the rest of my life. God will feed me the education that I not only received in school but the education I received from my past experiences in order to make those good decisions. I am, and will continue to be, a child of God.

I don’t mean to bring religion into this, and yes I did just cross out “to study medicine.” But let’s just say I was indeed surprised at myself throughout my college career and what I could do.

I am that girl who made books with computer paper and staples.

I am that girl who ever so badly wanted a laptop so she could write whenever she wanted.

I am that girl who sat at that old (now broken) desktop computer that I shared with my family members to write stories, only to be unfinished for years on end.

I am that girl who wrote essays so long they might as well be published.

I am April Frances Federico — the girl who has always wanted to write, even if it kills me.

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Living La Vida De Moda: Maria Del Carmen Mercado

A year ago when I wrote an article called Meet Local Fashion Designer Maria Del Carmen Mercado for my internship. We’ve been in touch since I sat down with Maria in Dave’s Coffee Shop in Providence, but I decided to write a follow-up article (a whole year later) about the Dominican Republic-born, Providence-based fashion designer.

“I didn’t choose fashion, fashion chose me.”

Maria recalls the days where her career as a designer, and essentially, a creative began: “My story of a fashion designer or creative began as a child, where I would sew the clothes for my dolls and my friends’ dolls, and everything around me was usually transformed into dolls.  For example, mango seeds. I would usually paint a face on them with nail polish and they would become my dolls. [My] business also started early; I would make doll clothes and trade them for candy or coins.”

Her curiosity for fashion and particularly the art of movement peaked when she was in high school. “I was involved in after-school art programs and activities.  But it wasn’t until high school where I started to work after school in a clothing store.  I also modeled with two agencies and started to draw clothes.  During this time I became very curios why the clothing that I loved never fit correctly so during my time in my job I would put close attention to the fabrics that I handled, the details of the clothes but most importantly, I would ask myself how would I change the garment to make it fit me the way I liked,” says Mercado. And because of this experience, she likes to work with clients to give them the perfect jacket, wedding dress, bathing suit, etc that fits them just right.

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After graduating high school, she received a scholarship to attend the Rhode Island School of Design pre-college program (concentrating on fashion), where she built a portfolio and eventually got into her first-choice college: The Fashion Insitute of Technology in New York, New York where she graduated as a fashion design major in 2007.

“Fashion is a form of expression, my own personal way to see a shape or garment.  It is my way to represent a body’s figure.  To me, fashion is away of life. Things become shapes, color and structure.  It’s a way of putting attention to the details around me.  For example, my opinion on politics, history and culture. Fashion is thinking outside the box. It is knowing when to listen to your intuition and being able to recognize what is and isn’t there.”

If you are thinking about a career in fashion design, Mercado does have a few words of wisdom for you: “First I want to say that fashion is NOT what you see in the magazines, another word is NOT just glamour.  Just like a doctor or engineer, there are certain things that a fashion designer needs to learn.  In my opinion, to be a good fashion designer, I feel education is key.  Even if you are wealthy how would you communicate what you want to the pattern maker or the seamstress or most importantly, how would you know the difference between a patterned sleeve or a skirt?  To be a fashion designer there are so many components that you need to learn that you can’t learn by watching youtube channels.  Pattern making, draping, fashion illustration, color theory,  are just a few things that are a must for a fashion designer.”

Mercado continues: “to be a great fashion designer you need to be adventurous, willing to take risks and be different.  Learn to look within yourself and make decisions that YOU feel that work.  You need to have the confidence to turn off the voices and follow your heart.  I feel that the best direction is to design what I feel is correct NOT what is trendy.  I believe that you can’t teach someone how to be an artist but they can learn the technical side and the best way is through formal education.  Being an artist is seeing and feeling beyond what’s there, how can you teach that?”

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When asked what her favorite part of being a designer was, she said she enjoys every aspect of it! But that isn’t to say, that there aren’t times when she doesn’t have creator’s block. When she does get creator’s block, she doesn’t go by what other people are creating or what’s “in style,” at the moment. She just moves on to another project or takes a walk to recharge and refresh her mind. That also isn’t to say that she doesn’t get critical with herself, either, which she said is a weakness of hers.

“Although I am much better now, but it took awhile to realize that no one is going to give my brand 100% but me.  MDCM designs are my feelings, the way I see things, my way of life.  Realizing that no one but me could convey this has helped me a great deal, most importantly excepting that perfect does not exist.”

With that being said, in the fashion world, one is always learning, making mistakes, taking risks, and finding themselves through their work!

To view Maria’s website, click here  and to shop, go to http://www.mariadelcarmenmercado.shop! Thank you, Maria, for the interview and for your powerful, impactful words of advice!

***Photographers of the design images are @gabinichi and @denzzzadd from ristudio504.com — check out their work! 

 

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Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again

Remember when we were little kids and we fell down and had to endure the searing pain of scraping knees? When we were kids, we thought that we were invincible and indestructible, no matter what. So, we got up, shed a tear or two (especially if we were bleeding after falling on gravel — the worst!)

I was contemplating what to write for the past six hours since I haven’t written a blog post in well over three weeks. I saw this post on Instagram which prompted an idea:

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Do you think, when we were kiddos, that we would let a scrape define us? We may have scars that exist to this day, but hey, my appendectomy scars have faded at this point in time. But that’s just my own personal example. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know how resilient we are. The idea that originally sparked for a possible blog post today were examples of how far I’ve come despite what has hurt me, physically or emotionally. Being bullied for six years attempted to hold me down on the ground so many times that I need at least ten more sets of hands to count. Being shy and ostensibly different made me an easy target, for sure. The number of times I jokingly wrote “April Federico rocks!” on whiteboards only to have people tell me that I “don’t” was not only annoying but a tad hurtful. This is what I like to call Exhibit A. 1) I did what everyone else was doing, only to be ridiculed (that’s peer pressure, for ya) 2) I actually cared about what people thought of me. I did not have any self-confidence or self-esteem. I’ve had people try to knock me down while walking in hallways, locker doors closed on my nose without an apology, and people pointing and laughing at me when I was eating a pizza at Rock ‘N’ Bowl. At that point, I thought “seriously? They’re trying to ruin this for me too?” In fact, I thought some idiot would pull down my shorts that day so I wore a belt… on shorts that didn’t even have the loops for one. It seemed as though everything I did was subject to ridicule and mockery. Yup, that was middle school and the first half of high school.

The only person I really want to bitch-slap at this point is my middle school self for thinking she had to change because she was hurt by so many people. But at some point, I do want to sit in the parking lots of that middle school like YouTuber Katy Bellotte did in her video. For me, it would’ve been a whopping eight years later. Funny thing is, this is something I just thought of. I WILL do it someday and say, “I’ve fallen, been pushed, all these things, but I really didn’t need to change to give anyone the satisfaction.” Need a reminder of what mutilation I morphed into? Read Personas.

I also saw this one post by Katy Bellotte on her Instagram and she so eloquently said:

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Just some more food for thought. We are the heroes and heroines of our own story that pick themselves up again after we have fallen. Even if we feel defeated, we’re the ones who decide what to do with ourselves after the fact.

 

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How to Find the Perfect Internship — I Did!

One of the biggest concerns I had for this summer was finding an internship, and not just any internship – the internship that would help open doors for me to future jobs and eventually law school.

I had it in my mind for the longest time that I wanted to go into publishing, but in high school, I was set on being a lawyer. Don’t get me wrong, I still write for a living and enjoy it each and every day. But since joining the RWU Women’s Collective for Violence Prevention and Victim Empowerment (which advocates for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and Title IX) and conducting a presentation on Title IX and sexual assault/harassment on college campuses, I realized that this is the field I want to go into. Also, after talking to the Title IX coordinator on my campus, just to pick her brain in terms of the path I should go on, she recommended either education, law, or both. I decided to take her advice and go back to my high school dream.

Thus, I looked for government jobs on Handshake for the summer. It was close to the end of the semester, so I was ravenously searching and sending in my resume, cover letters, etc. But before hearing back from the positions I applied to, my “backup plan” was communication internships, because I do have a lot of writing experience. [One of] the place(s) that I’m interning at right now, Linden Place Mansion, wound up needing a student with experience in communications, public relations, and social media. There was no way I was passing this up, even though it is unpaid.

Resorting back to my other backup plan of getting a paid job at a pizza joint (just to get some extra money in my wallet and bank account), somehow, the career gods came through and I received an email the night of June 20, 2019, from the Mayor of Providence’s office saying I was selected for their (paid) Advanced Internship Program!

How did I get these internships? I persisted and I had a support system (my best friends, my mom, professors, and my boyfriend). Moral of the story: never give up, build your support system, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice from a professional. In my case, the professional I asked was RWU’s Title IX Coordinator. The parting advice she gave me was to think of education or law and to take initiatives on campus and in the job atmosphere, like applying for jobs at women’s shelters or hotlines. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to perfect that resume and cover letter. What really is a lifesaver is Handshake, a job-searching platform that most universities have (or should have) now. These are things to keep in mind for the upcoming fall semester and the semesters and summers to follow.

“Chase those passions that make your heart flutter…” — Katy Bellotte

 

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Sprinkled by Kristen: Meet Kristen Bauer, the Baker!

BOXBORO, MA — The day before our best friend’s (hi Katelyn!) graduation from Saint Anselm College, I had the chance to interview my dear friend, Kristen Bauer who happens to be a baker! When I sat down (while she baked), she was working on the frostings and fillings for the cake: a strawberry filling with a white chocolate ganache.

In order to make the ganache, she steams some cream until it boils then pours it over white chocolate chips for 5-10 minutes. “The ratio of the cream depends on how you thick you want it [the ganache] to be,” says Bauer.

The day prior to this interview, she made a fresh strawberry jam. She did this by cutting up some fresh strawberries, pouring a cup of sugar, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and let it simmer for two hours for the rich, thick, and savory flavor! Alongside the jam, she makes a whipped cream frosting which she will then decorate with pink and purple coloring.

Kristen has essentially been baking her whole life! Just like (almost) every other little girl, she had an Easy-Bake Oven, which sparked her passion for baking. She also adds, “I have a really big sweet tooth! And something about making desserts is a lot more satisfying to me than making other ‘creations.'”

“Normally, when I have problems with the logistics of my cake, I brainstorm with my mother […] she understands that this is a passion of mine and that I care about the minute details. For this cake, for instance, I’m trying to figure out how many layers I should make. I originally made two vanilla layers and cut them in half to make four layers. So, with that, you would get a different ratio of the jam and the white chocolate ganache. So I need to figure out what would be best for this cake, but also not ruining the structural integrity which is very important because if I do attempt to cut these two layers into four, I could very much destroy this cake, and we would have nothing!”

You can follow Kristen’s creations on Instagram @sprinkled_by_kristen .

And look at the finished product, everyone! It was scrumptious!

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For the Girl About to Turn 22 | Welcome to My Jordan Year (23)

I almost made this post today (Monday, May 20th), but by the time this post goes live, I’ll be less than 24 hours from my “Jordan Year” a.k.a my 23rd year of living, breathing, and thriving.

This may, unfortunately, be my last year residing in beautiful Rhode Island as I do plan on (hopefully) moving back to Massachusetts for law school, and I am finishing my last year at RWU.

I made a post similar to this last year, but I thought I’d do it again because… duh, it’s my life and I think I’m rather good at giving advice if I do say so myself. I was looking back on For The Girl About To Turn 21 | Moving Onto 22, and I just say, “damn how I’ve grown.”

So here’s to the girl about to turn 22 years old, this is for you:

  1. No matter if you’re graduating on time, or later than you expected, either is okay.
  2. Going along with that, don’t stress if you’re not graduating on time. Life happens/happened!
  3. Do NOT compare yourself. I’m not going to write that overly quoted phrase by whomever because EVERYONE knows what I’m talking about.
  4. There are people who are going to try to bring you down. Don’t listen to them.
  5. Also going along with that, there will be people who try to punish you for their personal B.S. Just know that you did nothing wrong.
  6. Do NOT be afraid to stand up for yourself and speak your mind when needed. If you feel that something is unjust, do something about it.
  7. It’s okay not to have a “cool job” over the summer, especially if you just graduated. I mean, hey, my mom waitressed for a year prior to getting her Master’s (and she really is the boss).
  8. You will find out what you want to do with your life. TRUST ME.
  9. Take your mom’s advice about self-defense and being safe. In fact, just listen to your mom. Period.
  10. If you’re going to argue something, be 110% prepared and know your facts.
  11. With that being said, don’t just be “opinionated.” You can’t call it an opinion if it’s not backed up with confidence and FACT. Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance and ignorance.
  12. Don’t be afraid to dip your toes into something new.
  13. Don’t give into peer pressure nor should you be easily swayed.
  14. If you know, you know. No one’s going to know what’s better for you than you.
  15. It’s not easy being positive all the time. You have to give yourself a break and shed a tear or a couple hundred.
  16. All families are dysfunctional. Yours is not the model of all things dysfunctional.
  17. You WILL realize that you have way too much respect for yourself to be treated as less than you are.
  18. Listen to your heart, except if you’ve been drinking. Your drunk self has no common sense.
  19. A thesis isn’t that bad, and I’m saying that as someone who already wrote theirs.
  20. Indulge in your creative side more.
  21. Please do yourself a favor and watch Grey’s Anatomy.
  22. Don’t be afraid to go back to your roots, even if you haven’t particularly missed them. Confront them.

Now, I officially welcome you all into my 23rd year! 🥂

xoxo,

April 😘💕

 

 

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Self-Care and Spirituality Tips

During this time of year, you’ll notice that everything and possibly everyone around you has been acting “funky–” and not the good kind of funky. That is because the planet Mercury is currently in retrograde and that can affect all astrological signs, but especially Air Signs (like mine.)

You’re reading this thinking, “April, I think you’re being ‘funky’ because you don’t usually get into things like this.” Since transferring schools, I’ve gotten a lot into astrology and even gotten in touch with my spiritual-psychic side (I’m not Raven Baxter, I’m not actually psychic.) You can fight me all you want on this, but even when I went to Catholic School, we learned how others practiced believing.

This time of year actually happens to hit me right in the heart these past two years because we are actually approaching the 2-year-anniversary in which I was hospitalized. If you’re new to the Diaries, check out ‘Cause I Still Got A Lotta Fight Left In Me | My Hospital Stay | My Mental Illness(es) for the whole story.

So, how will I cope? Or how do I cope with something so heavy and tumultuous to remember? I have luckily learned how to achieve this hard-to-grasp aspect that is self-care.

Since practicing my spirituality, I have learned to replace “I want this…” with “I have this…” or “I am this…” PRESENT TENSE!!! It’s essentially a mantra! Another part of it is living in the present, which may sound like a cliche, but I promise you that’s it’s just common practice that a lot of people do struggle with. It’s just a habit that you have to get yourself into. It also helps if you write to your guides. Guides? Really, April? You’re insane. Eh, just a little😉 Learn more about them here. Listen, I’m not trying to “convert” anyone here. I’m just here to give advice and share what has worked for me these past three months of 2019. I have also learned how to treat myself (responsibly, of course) and immerse myself into things that I love to do, or have always wanted to do.

Hey, April, I’m friends with you on Facebook and I noticed you have a camera in your profile picture? What’s up with that? 

Writing may be one of my passions, but I can’t do it full-time, and I’ve been known to drive myself crazy with it. I desperately needed a hobby, not a hobby-turned-full-time-job-that-drains-the-sh*t-out-of-you. So, I branched out into the arts (which I’ve always loved), and I’m in the process of making a documentary for my Arts Administration Capstone and… wait for it…

A YOUTUBE CHANNEL!

Taking time for yourself to do what you love is an important part of self-care, even if it’s just doodling in your notebook. And who knows? You could make a living out of it! Taking time for yourself, in general, is imperative to your overall being. So, you could go for a run, go get yourself a cup of coffee and avocado toast (like I did yesterday!) at your local coffee shop. The other day, I gave myself a facial and I also bought jade rollers, which you will see in another blog post to come.

Right now, I hope you’re in a nice pair of leggings or sweat pants because you deserve some serious comfort from your 9-5 job and/or studying! Happy Friday!

xoxoxo April 💕✌😘

 

 

 

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Fight For Your Dreams, Fight The Patriarchy, And Support One Another In The Process

Every Academy Award show, year after year, there are speeches that may as well go down in history, especially this past award show. I would have liked to compile a “top ten best dressed: Oscars 2019,” but there is more that needs to be said.

Can we all just be in awe of the fact that Lady Gaga is halfway towards being an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner)!? That’s right, for those who missed it, Lady Gaga won an Oscar for “Best Original Song.” Everyone around me questioned Lady Gaga when I was growing up, but I’ve always liked her for being different. I read magazines that reported, “oh, she just likes the attention.” No. She embodies theater and performance. Don’t get me wrong, we’re supposed to question everything in life, and no one can exactly stop anyone for having opinions. But one thing is true is that opinions should be backed up by fact and not plain prejudice and self-importance.

Moreover, this part of her acceptance speech struck a chord of truth in me:

“If you have a dream, fight for it. It’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or get beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand, are brave and keep on going.”

Oftentimes, I find myself questioning (there’s that word again!) my future based on what people say to me. Granted, especially if you’re in the arts, you’re going to have critics. I have/had many critics, no matter what the situation. But I’ve kept on going. I auditioned for dance theatre last month, and auditioned for two dances for the dance club and didn’t get into either one of them. But it was no belittlement of my talent because I know that I put in the effort and I tried. They even took the time to acknowledge how much effort I put in. I hated that people tried to talk me down from being “too passionate” when dancing. In fact, having passion while dancing is a good thing.

I then saw this Facebook post, post-victory and it was a picture of Gaga with a quote from her above it that read:

“I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a grammy, never have a hit and hoped I’d fail. I said to him ‘someday, someday when we’re not together anymore, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.”

Did I mention some idiot she went to college with made a Facebook group titled, “Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous?”

I know both those feelings all too well — to have people close to me not supporting me and, instead, hoping that I’d fail or do less. And I do recall being added to a random-ass Facebook group as a joke by people I didn’t even know in eighth grade. Who knows? There were probably Facebook groups or group chats solely made to diss me. Again, I don’t know, and I never will.

And my point? What you say will come back to unapologetically bite you. But I’m not here to give you karmic facts.

Also, today also happens to be International Women’s Day — one of my favorite days of the year! No, really, it is. I’m also very excited to announce that I will be returning to RWU next year as VICE PRESIDENT, for the second year in a row, of the Women’s Collective for Violence Prevention and Victim Empowerment!!! I remember, at my previous college, I tried to start a women’s empowerment group, and to this day, I feel like I failed my interested peers because of the illnesses that overcame my life that semester. When I first announced it to my (then) class group on Facebook, it was mocked. I was often labeled a “third-wave feminist,” but that was just one source of ridicule on my ever-growing feminism. But look at me now! I could go completely off-topic if I wanted to, but I shall not.

But my point is? Instead of tearing each other down, support one another and build each other up. Many people have tweeted this, so much that it should just be a rule of thumb, at this point. Envy and hatred are never in style, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a fashion blogger (see what I did there?) It’s true, no matter what gender you are. Don’t write-off someone’s vision as “stupid” or something that should be “held off,” but a possibility. Who knows? That vision could be a good idea to others.

 

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Getting Real About Fitting In. SPOILER: Standing Out Is So Much Better

In sixth grade, I searched for books in my mom’s shelf to read because I was bored with the typical adolescent genre that everyone my age was reading. I came across a book titled Fit In: Stand Out, only to find out it was all about marketing. It wasn’t until I finished typing that sentence that this ostensible “fitting in” and “standing out” is all about how you market yourself. This Monday without any classes whatsoever has me watching Hairspray (Nicki Blonsky and Zac Efron version), and Tracy Turnblad earns her spot on the Corny Collins Show by absolutely working it at… I don’t even know if it’s a dance or a soiree, tbh. Either way, she was both Link Larkin (Zac Efron) and Corny Collins’ “lady’s choice” and earns a spot on the show.

I was having a sort of “soliloquy/monologue” after not getting into a dance, and after watching the Grammy’s. I was recalling Lady Gaga’s initial speech (the one where she was alongside former First Lady Michelle Obama, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Alicia Keys, and J-Lo). She said, “they said I was weird. That my look, my choices, my sound, that wouldn’t work, but music told me not to listen to them.”

There was no doubt that I was called weird in those dark days of middle school. How do I know that? Because I heard most of it, like “b*tch, I can hear you, even when you’re supposedly ‘talking behind my back.’ TRY HARDER!!!” And booooy did people show how much they didn’t “approve” of me, too. I began to realize that I was letting people market me, but that’s because I wasn’t quite sure how to market myself. I tried to market myself as the girl who loved to sing and do theatre, only to be judged more. Fashion played a big role in my life, too, as a means of self-expression. Even today, I dress up even when I don’t have to, and if I don’t, I simply don’t feel like myself. 

You’re probably thinking, this girl is cynical AF. No. I am reflecting on and sharing my experience with you all so this makes sense.

To paraphrase what Lady Gaga said at the Grammy’s, art, no matter if it is sculpture, filmmaking, poetry, blogging, etc. taught me not to listen to the opinions of those who only aspire to be lemmings — afraid to be different. 

So, what I’m essentially saying is that standing out can be a great, beautiful, and courageous thing.

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“A lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep.”

― George R.R. Martin

 

 

 

 

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THE FASHION DIARIES: Corduroy Jumpers are the New Blazers | Winter Fashion 101

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these fashion diary entries — since September 2018! I’m currently sitting in my favorite coffee shop in my cute little town doing work for thesis. Having a lavender tea never made me feel more relaxed and focussed than I am right now!

Spring Semester isn’t coming for another two weeks (at least for me.) As I said in my last post, this is the year of the color, purple and its many shades (shall I call this post Fifty Shades of Purple? Nah.) The colors purple, black, winter white, and even tan are paving their way into my wardrobe this winter season. New year, new clothes, am I right?

I took it upon myself to purchase a rosewood corduroy jumpsuit from SHEIN, along with a newspaper print top. I mainly bought the top to get myself motivated for my thesis topic LOL. Could it also foreshadow my future career? Who knows?

Anyway, here’s my jumper and top paired with black nylons and black Chinese Laundry high-knee wedged boots:

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While I’m at it, I’ll also attach a picture of my makeup:

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[Shameless self-promo] On the subject of bold lips and eyeshadow, have you checked out my magazine, Bold Lips and Coffee Talk, yet? We’re looking for blog writers and poetry submissions!

So this was short-and-sweet and to-the-point, just like my jumper!

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FESTIVE FRIDAY NIGHTS: How To Make Your Dreams Come True | How I Realized Mine

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I may not have read The Alchemist, yet. But I know one thing to be true: I am just another up-and-coming “Girl-Boss” trying to make her way through the world she has barely even experienced, just to find that treasure. And by the “world,” I mean the world of the digital age coexisting with publishing. That’s right, publishing, my dream job.

It has dawned on me while searching my brain for topics to write about that I have never discussed my “dream job” with you all. I remember when I was in kindergarten, I had a collection of dolls called the Pop Dreamers, who were based on Disney princesses. One of them kept repeating, “dreams are just wishes and wishes come true.” And then there’s the song, “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes,” from Cinderella. I even recall writing a poem in fourth grade titled, “What is a Wish?” I wish I still had the poem, first of all. But that was when I first started writing poems and had a knack for it. If it weren’t for that stupid 86 I got on that book of poems in sixth-grade English, I would have continued to write poems.

This may or may not be a cliché, but college is all about discovering yourself. It takes some people less time than others, and for some, it can take possibly a whole lifetime! No matter if you choose to go to college or not, you will find your treasure in the depths of the Egyptian Pyramids, or somewhere more realistic. For me, it happened to be about rediscovering yourself through the odyssey of resilience (that’s actually a title of a poetry book that I WROTE coming out in 2019.) If you know me well enough and have seen my incessant self-promos on Facebook, you’d know that I wrote for a platform called The Odyssey Online — manager found my work to be so impressive that he made me the editor in chief! All of this stuff about journalism and writing came back to me. Even in fourth and fifth grade, I was a part of the Newspaper Club. At the time, what I found to be my “passion” were stuffed animals, particularly Webkinz and Shining Stars. I wrote about what I knew at that time, did some investigation to find out what was the “Webkinz favorite” of Dale Street School (yes, I was the mastermind behind that.)

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be interning for Rhode Island Monthly (do I bring that up a lot? Yes, yes I do. Don’t like it? I don’t care, it’s my life) and even taking on a web manager position for the English and Creative Writing department and managing editor position for our soon-to-be online magazine, Voices. Even though I have a full year left of college (I graduate December 2019), I am in the process of looking at grad schools. Also, you may congratulate me because I am officially a first-semester-senior!

Anyway, as I was doing my search, I have concluded that I want to start my own magazine, or start out small and work my way up to being an editor. No, I do not know what it’d be about, but again, it’s about working your way towards it. I’m going to use that redundant phrase, dreams don’t work unless you do right in this very sentence, because I think it’s quite relevant. If you want something to be a “hit,” you have to make it a hit. In the end, it’s all up to you. It’s okay to get second, third, and even ten opinions, but your destiny meets you. It’s like what my mom always tells me, “always have a Plan B; I’ve gone as far as Plan K!” I certainly will not know what I’ll be doing after December 2019, but I have the amazing help of everyone on my side. Seek help, if need be. In fact, scratch that, it’s imperative that you ask for help.

 

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Cheers To Two Years Of This Blog

First of all, HAPPY TWO YEARS TO THIS BLOG! Remember when it used to be “Redheaded Ambition?” I do, too. Second, thank you so much to the readers who have been with me throughout this journey of expression. Thank you to my parents (especially my mom) for giving me this idea, and especially to those who encouraged me to keep writing.

I remember when I first started this blog, I was not in a good place in my life. But this was a point where I was starting to become my own person and not give a f**k about what people would think about me/my decisions, and I’ll be honest, some decisions were better than others (e.g. dying my hair a dark brown — yikes!) Yet again, we are human.

I’m at a much better place in my life right now and am truly enjoying the work I’m doing. I also remember when writing this blog, I was trying to be THE boss-ass bitch by doing everything I could’ve ever done with my time. I remember looking at a photo of myself wearing a Madrid baseball cap, green plaid scarf, typical black leggings look with Hunter Boots holding a pumpkin spice latte from Dunkin Donuts sticking my tongue out, and I couldn’t help but think: “I’m in a new place (literally), with a new mindset, with the same deep-red nail polish and same coffee obsession.”

I remember writing The Art of Communication and thinking about how angry I was while initially writing it that summer. Then came the day I started this blog and I was actually ready to put it out there.

Also, while reflecting, I’m going to be honest (as always.) I went against what I preached in THE FASHION DIARIES: Wedding Attire And Getting Real About Love and tried a dating app (I’m not going to say which one.) My advice after the ordeal I went through this past month? Don’t do it. Never would I ever have thought I’d be the one to break things off with a guy, but my other piece of advice is KNOW.  YOUR. WORTH. The reason why I didn’t post this on time was that of this guy who took advantage of my precious time. It’s actually super funny because whenever I’m in my last full year at a school, I have “things” with guys. Moreover, my job as a blogger/influencer/woman is to empower other young women (and even men) that may be going through what I have gone through.

Moral of the story: thank u, next (best song EVER.)

Another funny thing? I was going through something like this two years ago when starting this blog (different circumstances, of course.) I always compare myself to Carrie Bradshaw, but in this case, I feel like Miranda because she, like the rest of the “quad,” are powerful women. But my favorite thing about Miranda is that she never accepted anything less than she deserved.

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And going off of that gif, she never apologized for her success. 💪 One more thing before I wrap up this blog post is that she has supportive friends. And I’m beyond thankful for each and every one of my friends who has supported me throughout all areas of my life.

I love you all, and from now on, I’m dedicating myself to empowerment and, of course, writing!

xoxo

April 💋❤

 

 

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Learning How To Say ‘No’ And Learning What You Want Out Of Life

This hasn’t really been my week, I’ll be honest. But you know what they say, the dark brings out the stars. Light has always been a motif in my life. In fact, my horoscope for today said, “don’t feel bad about wanting more.” In some cases, you need to push for what you want, which often means sacrifice.

If you know me, you’d know I always say, “October isn’t my month.” It really isn’t. No matter how much I love fall, the leaves, the weather, and even people start to show their true colors. I can’t help but think to myself, “do I really love fall? Or just the fashion and the pumpkin spice lattes I can get at Starbucks?” I had to ask myself a different question last week, but in a different context: “do I really want to write about fashion?” Needless to say, I wound up quitting my fellowship at CFashionista, but no worries, I’ll still be writing about fashion in my school newspaper.

Another thing: I took it upon myself to schedule a phone call with a graduate student at a prospective graduate school I really want to attend once I graduate from RWU. After sitting in countless senior seminar poetry classes, I’ve come to realize that the one thing I truly love to write is… guess what… POETRY.

I rediscovered poetry December 2016, when I was in the process of transferring colleges. It helped me cope with a lot that was going on in my life. (My poetry portfolio will be coming out within the next year or so, I figure.) Moreover, I’m planning on pursuing my MFA in poetry after I graduate.

Pursuing poetry as a concentration meant saying “no” to fiction writing. Don’t get me wrong, I love both; but poetry is my strongest avenue. This is where I’m going to get into saying “no,” when you need to.

I often call myself a “people pleaser,” which doesn’t necessarily work out for me. But in reality, you have to learn how to start saying, “no,” especially if it’s something you don’t want to do. I laugh as I write this because I’m remembering this Jimmy Fallon clip of Kevin Hart being scared shitless of Robert Irwin’s animals. No joke, I’d be scared, too. But like a lot of people, I have a problem with saying “no,” at times. Saying “no” will end up working out in your favor, when necessary. We know what we want, we’re not stupid.

So, moral of this blog post, don’t be afraid to say “no,” because, in the end, you’ll learn what you really want out of life. That goes for absolutely everything. Need I say more? I think not.

xoxo,

April 💜

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Burnt Out

I know, you’re thinking “it’s only week four (five now) of classes. How could you be burnt out?”

As I was typing the words, “burnt out” in the title, I looked at it and said, “has it really gotten to this point?”

As I sit in the atrium next to the Starbucks on campus, I am busy submitting poems to potential magazines and thinking about what to do next. Do I get lunch? No, not quite yet. Do I submit more poems for consideration? No, wait till you generate some more. Do I do work? Yes, April, you should OR you could write another blog post.

I wrote a blog post a while ago called Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management. Maybe this is just me, but I think that my time management is more up-to-par in the second semester. I’m sitting here yawning my like no other (mostly because I woke up at 6:30 to get ready for my 8 a.m. Management class.) I want to yawn some more just saying, “I have an 8 a.m. class Monday, Wednesday, Friday.” Yup, there I go again.

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Anyway, I’m not here to talk about how tired I am (constantly), I’m here to talk more about time management so your head can stay clear.

My morning routines (particularly Monday, Wednesday, Friday), I wake up at an ungodly hour, get dressed, get my usual venti-iced-white-mocha at the campus Starbucks and go to class. Since I commute to campus, I usually go home a half hour after my class. But today, I’ve decided to stay the entire day to catch up on work.

While I don’t have a set to-do list, I do have a consistent plan to get sh*t done. That means having a killer attitude even when you’re absolutely cranky. A constant theme I’ve noticed in the podcasts I listen to is the idea of “faking it till you make it.” To me, what that means, is faking it until it becomes reality. Last Thursday, I was so cranky and burnt out that I refused to take a joke or even smile. But then my mom, oddly enough, made me laugh about a Nacho Mama’s delivery car or something. (Nacho Mama’s is a Mexican place in Bristol). And I actually smiled!

But as I write this portion two weeks later, I have my sh*t together, and I even completed my first exam of the semester! (Pray for me, it was Management). Another thing: I started dancing again, and I completely forgot how much I loved it. Being a part of a team/club (or two, or three) really gives you balance, plus you discover what you’re truly passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. But dance has been my first love since I was three years old. (Thanks KD for persuading me to come to dance last Wednesday.)

That goes back to my theory about balance. Balance is a necessity of life, and even if you think you’re so busy, you actually can make time for your friends and the things you love. My friends and my mom keep telling me, “you need a hobby outside of writing.” I think I found it ☻

 

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Thoughts On Being Taken For Granted

I’ve seen a few posts on Facebook about this topic, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on this unfortunate subject on being taken for granted.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not have to be perfect, but I do not deserve to be treated as less than I am. As a woman, I believe it is not my job to aspire to marriage. However, when (or if) I do decide to get married or be in any relationship, I refuse to be taken for granted.

As said, I watched this video on Facebook about a husband and wife. The woman does absolutely everything around the house, including getting their young daughter to school on time, making lunch, and even making her husband’s favorite dinner, which he completely rebuffs because, supposedly, the house is “filthy.” He asks his wife, “what did you do all day?” in retaliation. Are you kidding me!? 

We’ve all been there — no matter if you’re male or female. It feels like we do everything for someone or a group of people and they just completely rebuff our efforts to please them (I’m not talking in a sexual way.) Or, they simply don’t think what you’re doing is “enough” (that could actually be taken in a sexual context.)

When I first started this blog, I turned to one of my favorite principles: “If you can’t take it anymore, then give.” I’m certainly not who I was two years ago when I wrote my first blog post on “the Art of Communication.”

There are times when I definitely feel like my efforts aren’t good enough for other people. But the thing is, and I encourage you all to do this: do it for yourself. About a week ago, I led a community connections trip for incoming freshmen at RWU, and I must say, bonding with the first-year students was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I didn’t apply to be a site leader because it’ll “look good on a resume,” I did it because service is a huge part of my life, and I wanted to be among the many people who want Rhode Island communities to feel appreciated.

If you feel like you’re being taken for granted, just know that there are people out there that do/will appreciate your hard work. This also kind of goes along with another blog post of mine, The Two Tips To Achieve Self Love.

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I quoted this in another blog post, and I’ll quote it again, (because TBH when am I NOT pulling a quote out of my butt?) “Your twenties are your selfish years.” Yes, you have to be selfish sometimes, but not so much that you completely take everything and everyone you’ve ever known for granted. Take a minute and pray, or even better, as soon as your feet hit the ground in the morning, say “thank you.” And with every step you take afterwards, say “thank you.” You only get one life. Tell those workers at Starbucks (I’m talking to you, RWU students 😜) “thank you,” or that one professor who listened to your problems “thank you.” A little appreciation goes a long way. It’ll make someone’s day. (Sorry that rhymed 🤣) Heck, even thank Mother Nature for how nice the weather was today (if it was nice — I don’t know where you are in the world!)

If you know me, you’d know that I pray on the daily. I say to God ALWAYS, “thank you for this life and I thank you for protecting me.” I ask God to bless everyone in my life who has impacted me for the better. I’ll pray tonight that my junior/senior year of college will be the best year of my life.