Chip Bowls Crashing Down

The air is chilly. Dark red and yellow leaves lie restlessly on the damp evergreen. Jack o’ Lanterns with whimsical faces nestle in bunches outside of people’s doors. The aroma of cinnamon scented pinecones and pumpkin spice fills the nostrils of many as they cuddle around their roaring fires. In October, autumn is casting about mini tornados of leaves, brushing the feet of those in its path as the trees dance in the wind. This month is witness to the increased purchase of candy, fake spider webs, and Batman costumes. Only few know why this month is so significant, but don’t worry, I’ll clue you in. Besides all of the fantastical autumn themed scents, ten-pound bags of Snickers, and funny-looking pumpkins, this month brings sports fans together. October marks the halfway point of football season and provides a map for predicting which teams will make it into the Super Bowl.

Football season usually begins in early September when the pungent scent of Kingsford Match Light charcoal lingers in the air and hot dogs and burgers sizzle on the grill. Families and friends come together sporting the jerseys of their favorite teams and players, finding community in those who support their choices and even those with whom they can argue. While the kids are slip-slippery-sliding and cannonballing into the pool, their parents engross themselves in the nearest television, chanting and hollering in support of (and on many occasions, at) their favorite teams until another chip bowl comes crashing to the ground. This time is the start of the season, the first four games in which all teams have something to prove, and if your family is nearly as competitive as mine, then you do, too. If you were disappointed in last year’s performance, it is during this time that you are most optimistic, hoping your players have had rest and practiced and are prepared to dominate the season. September proves to be just that for football fans: a phase of optimism.

By the following month of the season, players are competing in games five through eight, which, to me, is truly when the season begins. October marks the point at which all the teams have exposed their secret super stars, those who run sixty-five yards upfield to the touchdown or kick an eighty-five yard field goal. These super stars help us football fanatics gage which teams will most likely advance to the playoffs and ultimately compete for the title of Super Bowl Champions. Now, instead of the smell of burgers and franks on the grill, the aroma of a Glade Warm Flannel Embrace plug-in fills the room. With one obnoxiously large marshmallow topping their cups of hot chocolate and s’mores filling their bellies, groups of football connoisseurs and amateurs, alike, continue rooting for their teams. With a scorching flame from the fireplace keeping them warm and a hot season approaching, fans are on fire for football during the chilly month of October.

Written by Ashley

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How to Combat Summer Boredom

Summer is finally here. As a student, I really look forward to summer every year. It seems like I have so much going on during the fall and spring semesters, and at least one aspect of my life is always completely out of control. If I don’t have eighteen projects due for my classes in the span of one week, then I’m preparing for a big weekend with the media team at my church. If things at the church aren’t crazy, then I’m dealing with some family crisis or my friends suddenly want to hang out until way past my preferred bedtime. The problem is that I care about all of these areas of my life, so I want to give them all as much attention as they require. During the summer, it seems like every area of my life comes to a screeching halt. Suddenly, there are no classes to attend, no homework to do, and maybe no one on campus to hang out with. I find myself wondering what to do with all of my free time. Maybe you do, too, dear readers. Don’t worry. I’ve got some ideas for you to combat summer boredom.

My first idea is a pretty simple one. During the school year, there are a lot of things that get put on the backburner. Summer is a perfect opportunity to get some of those things done! At different points throughout the year, I’ve wanted to read some of the Harry Potter series, re-watch The Office, play a video game called Undertale, clean out my closet, and have my sister come to stay the weekend with me. Now that I have a few months without anything too crazy happening, I can probably do all of those things and more. Maybe some of you readers have goals you always seem too busy to reach. They can be small goals, like the ones I listed, or really big ones. Even if your aspirations are too high to reach in only a few months, maybe you can get your start this summer.

Another thing you can try if you find yourself bored out of your mind is going on an adventure. I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t much to do and there weren’t many places to go. In this boring environment, my friends and I used to come up with small adventures to keep ourselves busy. We would go to our nearest movie theater and see the worst-looking movie playing, just so that we could laugh at how bad it was. We would buy sidewalk chalk and draw murals at our local park. We would take a road trip to visit the closest zoo on half-price ticket day. We would walk to the highest point in town to watch the sunset overlooking our neighborhood. Sometimes, we would even just sit in my living room and watch the first episode of a bunch of different shows on Netflix. There are all kinds of adventures to be had if you open up your mind and use your imagination.

phineas and ferb

My last tip for staving off summer boredom is to just rest and relax. I know it might seem counterintuitive to try to rest when you want to be busy doing something, but that’s kind of the point. During the school year, I tend to become so busy that I run myself ragged. Without the presence of that busyness, I realize how slowly time can move. This summer, I want to take a deep breath and revel in a change of pace. I want to take the time to appreciate the world and the people around me without distractions. I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer over the past few weeks, and that time has made me really hungry to understand my God more. I’ve never felt a hunger this strong, and I want to run with it. I want God to show me new things. I think the perfect environment to foster this desire is a few months when I’ll be taking things slow, when I can rest, be still, and know that He is God.

Those are just a few ideas to fight the beast of boredom. Hopefully your summer will be a fun, enjoyable few months. Even if your summer will be busy with classes, work, mission trips, or just life in general, I pray that the God of peace will give you rest.

Written by Becca

Image credits: Header image, Phineas and Ferb

Letter to the Fiction Writer

Thud!

“Ow…” My forehead is regretting my decision to slam it into the desk, but I don’t particularly care. The monitor in front of me continues to glow, heedless of my disgust, displaying one blank word document with a blinking line at the very top. It’s waiting for me to do something. But what?

“I don’t know,” I groan aloud. The pieces of some vague plot are scattered in my brain, but they simply refuse to come together for long enough to get a good look at it. I can think of nothing to make those pieces sound interesting or compelling. Are they interesting or compelling? Am I fooling myself just by sitting here? Can I really write fiction?

I turn my head a little in an attempt to avoid a bruise in the middle of my forehead, and I happen to glance at the door to my room, which has been shut to the world for hours. I blink when I notice something white on the floor; a second glance confirms that I have never seen this object before. It’s a slip of paper, folded in half.

I rise from my chair and stoop to pick up the paper, half expecting to recognize the content as I unfold it, but no such luck awaits me. Someone has written in Sharpie, in handwriting I am unfamiliar with, “Inspiration awaits you out of doors.”

I stare at the words for a few seconds, turn the paper over a couple of times, and stand up again. Any normal person would wonder who had written the note, or what such cryptic words could be referring to. Those thoughts briefly flit through my head, but ultimately, the one I debate over is the one I ask out loud; “Where outside?”

Willing to suffer whatever consequences could await depending on this mystery writer’s intentions, I open the bedroom door for the first time all day, pass a glance at my fish tank on the kitchen counter as I strut through the house, and throw open the front door, squinting into the sun’s harsh, midday glare. All I can do is look at the ground for a few seconds. On the doorstep, just as if my guest predicted my actions, there is another piece of paper, this one sporting an arrow that points down the porch stairs. I spy another one on the tree, pointing left. Without stopping, I follow the arrows, only vaguely aware that I am being lured into the woods like some character in a horror movie. More arrows appear on trees as I go deeper and deeper into the woods. My only companions are the birds and squirrels I’m scaring away as I power through the brush.

Finally, the arrows stop. I wander helplessly for a moment before I notice a clearing. When I shove aside the last bush, I gasp: the ground is covered in wildflowers of every color imaginable, and the only thing to break the sea of sweet-smelling pops of color is the most inviting tree I’ve ever seen. It’s big and strong, its branches are thick with leaves, and there’s an alcove naturally set into the base of the trunk. Careful to shuffle through the flowers, I gingerly approach the tree to find a red spiral-bound notebook resting in the alcove. I weigh the stack of pages in my hand for a moment before daring to open it. There, in the same handwriting as that first note, is a letter.

Dear Fiction Writer,

Hello, you brave soul!

So you have dreams of becoming the next great American novelist. Or maybe you want to see your short story published in a magazine. Or maybe you just want to write down that plot bunny that’s been hopping around in your head for who-knows-how-long. Congratulations on breaking the bubble of academia and going for creative writing! You have chosen one of the most thrilling and most challenging modes of writing that exist.

I hope my little surprise helps you feel less like writing is a dull, thankless task. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of locale to get the creative juices flowing. Everybody’s “writing spot” is a little different, so I hope you like mine.

I took you on this adventure to make you feel an adventure. The emotions and physical sensations you just felt—those are what make fiction come alive. The crunching of dead leaves, the scampering of the squirrels, and the sensation of your heart pounding all come together to create one story—the story of how you recklessly followed a mysterious trail into the woods. The big story is the main focus, but the details make it worth reading.

Write what you want to read. I promise, there is someone out there who will read it. Maybe you’ll become famous in your lifetime, like C. S. Lewis. Maybe you’ll become famous later, like Emily Dickinson. Maybe you never will, and you think that’s just fine. Be happy in any case, because you’re going to write for yourself—no one else.

Before you give up, try it my way. It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding beyond measure.

Happy writing!

I take a deep breath; the scent of hundreds of flowers fills my nose. I rip the pen out of the spiral and, for the first time, I write without boundaries.

Written by Catherine

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DIY Gifts to Wow Her on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, a time in early May, has been dedicated to celebrating the mommies, mothers, mamas, and moms across the nation for many years. Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day founder, dedicated her life to honoring the great women who’ve endured much hardship for their children while continuing to be poised and graceful (History.com staff para.1). For the women whose love for their family is so unique, moms deserve a day dedicated to celebrating them in a spectacular way. Here are a few ideas for D.I.Y. gifts to wow any mom on Mother’s Day.

diy charm bracelet

First on the list of gnarly gizmos and gadgets is a D.I.Y charm bracelet. This simple yet elegant gift is gentle on the pockets, easy to make, and still very personal to that special lady. To make this charm bracelet, you will need a chain, jump rings, a lobster claw clasp, and a few meaningful charms. You can add as many or as few as you’d like and still achieve a one-of-a-kind look that will make Mommy smile. This gift will also allow you two to grow and improve the gift over time, as the charms can be updated and multiplied with time. As she sports this sweet act of love around her wrist, she will always be reminded of your appreciation for her as will everyone else.

diy spa in a jar

Source

Help Mama soak away the stress of being a mom, amongst other things, with a D.I.Y Spa in a Jar and D.I.Y Scrubs. To create a scrub your mom will love, take a small container, some white or brown sugar and pair it honey, olive oil or coconut oil, and a few drops of an essential oil she likes. After using this delicious-smelling concoction, she will have skin to die for! To fashion a Spa in a Jar, simply grab a large mason jar and fill it with those D.I.Y scrubs, lip balm, a face mask, and any other helpful trinkets for relaxation. Next, decorate the jar with some of her favorite colors and a nice ribbon. She will definitely appreciate the lovely gesture from you and the reminder for her to treat herself.

cheeseburger sliders

Finally, go the classic route with a spectacular Mother’s Day themed meal. Rock your mother’s taste buds with some fabulous flap-jacks, sausage, and an omelet the size of your head. For the moms more inclined to heartier meals, home-made-bacon-and-cheese-burger sliders would be a great choice. If you’re more of a Pizza Roll microwaver, simply make some fresh lemonade and chocolate covered fruit for a mouth-watering reaction.  My mom will be receiving a Spa in a Jar as well as a tasty Mother’s Day meal. Whatever you decide to make, or try to make, your mom will love and welcome it.

Show her a little gratitude with these cute and easy D.I.Ys. Remember, there is no judgement if you go crazy with hearts in these D.I.Ys as long as you have fun in creating them and use them as tools to show just how much you love and cherish your mom, mommy, mama, and mother.

History.com Staff. ” Mother’s Day.” History.com, 2011.

Written by Ashley

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To Meme or Not to Meme

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t enjoy a good meme. No matter what age, nationality, or perspective on life you have, memes speak to everyone. Commonly, when you think of a meme, you think of a random picture with a caption that fits just perfectly. It’s one of the best forms of communication, in my opinion.

challenge accepted

Being the meme connoisseur that I am, I had challengers who thought that they could win in a meme war against me. To show my wits to these challengers, I wanted to know where the term “meme” came from. Originally, the term is a shortened version of the word “mimeme,” a concept coined by Richard Dawkins, an English evolutionary biologist, who proposed the idea

“[w]hat if ideas were like organisms … They begin from a single location—the brain—and spread outward, jumping from one vessel to another, battling for attention” (Scarbrough). Dawkins argues that all life relies on replication, or memory, which is why the term relates well to the internet sensations we know now. Internet memes are an imitation of memories and pictorially depict reactions, which is why memes go viral. In Scarborough’s article, Dawkins says that some ideas become more successful than others, just like certain memes get more publicity than others. Especially in our social-media society, there is always someone posting, tweeting, blogging, or participating in whatever form of sharing s/he accesses. It’s human nature to react to it whether it be in a positive or negative way.

maybe

A meme is usually funny, so, if the comment was funny and you don’t want to necessarily reply back in a “rude” way because the words you type don’t always portray what you really want them to, a meme is a picture that can inflict an emotion/memory better. They can jog your mind to remind you how you were feeling when you first saw it. I don’t want to be arrogant, but my meme repertoire is pretty strong. I have a reaction for almost everything. It started as a way to respond to people when I didn’t feel like typing, and as it became more popular in social media, people unknowingly fed my budding habit which leads me to the self-proclaimed title of “meme queen.”

Social media has definitely influenced the meme era. In fact, the millennium generation has made a calendar that shows which meme was used most during each month. Once a meme goes viral, you’ll notice it being used for everything: celebrities making faces at an award show, a Vine snapshot, or a great catch by a football player that seems too good to be true. It can be lavish like someone adding seasoning to food in the fanciest way possible, or a reference about any exaggerated post, or as simple as a little girl smiling awkwardly resulting in memes referencing uncomfortable, awkward situations. Anything can be coined as a meme at any time, no matter how simple or mainstream you think it is. One does not simply meme and be great. It takes practice and dedication for a “meming” career path and to reach a level of extraordinary frivolousness.

kanye approves

Scarbrough, Jenna. “What is the origin of the word ‘meme’?”. Mental Floss. 07 March 2005. Mentalfloss.com/article/61843/what-origin-word-meme. Accessed “05 April 2017”.

Written by Celeste

Image credits: Preparing and Fast TypingChallenge AcceptedSmart ThinkerMeme CalendarKanye Approves

Letter to the Busy Writer

Well hey there, you diligent, skee-doodlin’, busy bee you! Word on the street says that you’re a little tied up with all your boring, adult obligations. I’ve been there, and isn’t exactly an enviable state. I mean, having food in the fridge and a regular paycheck is nice and everything, but writing is your hobby. Heck, more than that, it’s your passion! Life is withholding you from your destiny, like a healthy mom subjecting an aspiring baker to a vegetable-ridden existence. Listen to me. I know your purpose because I share it: you are going to be a great writer whose works will be read across oceans and continents just to satiate the imaginative minds of hungry artists like yourself. But, until then, you are stuck, so it seems, in the hub and the droning lull of the writer’s most feared word: obligations. Heed my words, fair writer, for I am your ally; I, too, am bound by the schedule created by success-driven communists who have carved out a “perfect life” for us and expect us to follow it with no qualms! *lowers raised fist, takes deep breath* But that’s beside the point. The crux, the true gem amongst your busyness is this: you can still write, and you can become better at it, too. Here’s how.

#1. You’re an experienced craftsman; I probably don’t need to explain to you, a writer, the benefits of reading. However, despite the fact that we know the importance of reading, we still neglect to do it. Instead of looking at your phone during moments of waiting or periods of downtime, carry a book in your backpack or purse. Remember again what it is like to entertain yourself with the turning of a page rather than the scrolling of a feed.

#2. Find a way to write something small every day. Yes, you can do it, and no, it doesn’t have to be lengthy or Pulitzer-prize worthy. Try purchasing a journal with daily prompts and dedicate five minutes to it each day. Even a cleverly-constructed grocery list can suffice as writing material. No artist ever improved by letting their tool lay idle; if you don’t force writing to be a habit, your skills will stay as stagnant as a corgi’s desire to stop being the cutest creature alive. (Sometimes I write short poems about my corgi, Beasley, when I’m stuck for ideas. That’s a free pro-tip for you.)

#3. Finally, find a show on Netflix (one you haven’t binged on before) which dramatizes a favorite book or falls under a category you enjoy writing about. You want to write mystery novels? There are dozens of crime shows awaiting your criticism and scrutiny. Obsessed with Jane Austen? *Gleeful giggle,* there is a plethora of watching material available for you. TV and books aren’t such different mediums; we can learn a lot about one by paying attention to the other.

Unofficial tip number four: stop telling yourself that you don’t have time to write. There are many things we should and shouldn’t have time for, but when something is important to us, we prioritize it. Even if you don’t enjoy the writing process as much as you used to, these tips will help it to feel more like a hobby again, rather than another time-consumer meant to further your dusty dreams of being a bestselling author. Trust me on this. I’ve been in your shoes, and I know what to do. As Ulysses from O Brother Where Art Thou so aptly put it, “I detect, like me, you’re endowed with the gift of gab.”

Written by Karoline

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Take a Break This Spring

Resumes or relaxation? Mini-mesters or mani-pedis? Scholarship applications or staycations? This is the season in which most overachieving busy-bodies and perfectionists alike are just itching to immerse themselves into a pool of productivity and work, but this may not be the best course of action for a week dedicated to dalliance. Over the course of the New Year, spirits are most optimistic about getting ahead, and one may have internally debated the decision of how to spend spring break. Based on said debate, it can be determined that a recess is necessary. Many people may come to the same conclusion for these two reasons: there are no more breaks until summer, and this is a time for intense self-care and a chance for a strong return to the semester.

From preschool to university, spring break is the last mid-semester break of an academic year. It is the last opportunity to digress and de-stress before being bombarded with the responsibilities of the remaining semester, such as late-night studying for exams, participating in extra-curricular activities, or taking a part time job. This time is important as students and faculty sadly reflect upon the fact that summer is a ways away. Before being embraced by the warming sun and the comforting idea of successfully completing another academic year, they must first endure the stresses that the school year brings. Furthermore, rest from any activity is essential to its success; as one allows for his or her mind and body to process the abundance of new information received and recover from the strain he or she is placed under during extensive periods of activity, including school and career building. Enjoy this tremendous week, free of instruction, responsibility, and stress by doing leisurely things that promote both mental and physical rehabilitation and the chance to return to the semester with focus and energy.

With that in mind, spring break is a phenomenal time for a little TLC. One way to get the most out of this break is to sleep in. Due to busy schedules and responsibilities that take up most of the day, many people find themselves going to bed late and waking up early. While this, for most, is essential and often obligatory, it is nice to have the option to rise as early or as late as desired. Catching up on some much needed sleep will prove effective when returning for the semester, as it will supply your mind and body with energy and allow for better concentration and a happier mood, all of which are essential in academic success. Besides, this form of relaxation is completely cost free.

Another potential course of action would be to travel to a new place. Whether it be another country or that new outlet mall an hour away from town, a new experience in a new destination will produce a variety of benefits. These new environments will provide a feeling of adventure which will motivate those growing bored with their everyday routines. Traveling also allows for one to clear his or her mind and focus on the environment, thus eradicating overthought, anxiety, and stress. With this clear mind, people are able to think more rationally about their plans for the remainder of the semester.

Finally, spring break grants sisters, brothers, cousins, daughters, sons, best friends, and best-best friends the freedom to watch movies together, play together, eat together, and spend time together. Most people find comfort and relaxation when they get to spend time with loved ones, as these are the people who know them best. It is important to take advantage of time with those you don’t get to see often.

Taking a breather from school for this week will bring productivity and energy for weeks to come. After all, this is the last break for a while, and recess is necessary. Return to the semester relaxed, refreshed, and ready for the work and pressure it will bring. Take a break this spring.

Written by Ashley

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