Mid-Semester Update on My Life

life

Guys, it has been a while since I could sit down at my computer and not feel guilty about spending time on my blog.  As much as I love investing in this blog, my schooling comes first.  Let me tell you, my studies require a lot of time and energy!  It’s good to be reminded that it is important to take some time to do things you enjoy.  We shouldn’t be working all the time.

But seeing myself improve within my program has been so rewarding.  The difference between the beginning of this semester and where I am now kind of blows my mind a bit.  I am extremely proud of the progress I have made and it further motivates me to work even harder.

Things have just begun to slow down a little bit for me, and I am looking forward to a time where I can invest in this blog as well as other things in my life that I really enjoy.  Perhaps these kind of updates are super boring to you, but I feel like I need to explain the changes that have happened in my life in order to prepare for the next chapter!

So What Has Happened?

I got into my degree program

Well, I guess the biggest thing that has happened to me in the last couple months is the changing of my degree.  I am happy to announce that I was accepted into my schools Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting program!  Right from the beginning, this has been one of the biggest goals in my academic career.  I know every school runs their program a little differently but in the case of my school, being in the BFA program is exactly the kind of edge I wanted to truly be challenged in my education.  I feel completely ready to take on the extra responsibility of being a BFA student.

I got cast in not one, but two musicals this summer

When I decided to major in theatre, I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to actually get into shows.  They kind of take it easy on you in high school I’ve learned.  But in college, simply getting into a show is a big deal.  I haven’t actually been in a musical since my senior year of high school.  You can imagine how excited I am to be in two this summer.  Through my school, I will be playing one of the mersisters in The Little Mermaid.  I get to be a mermaid!  Who doesn’t love that show?

I also attended my first professional cattle-call audition this spring.  It wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  Through this audition, I was cast in the role of Margot in Legally Blonde the Musical for the summer stock company in my hometown!  I am super excited to return home to do a show!

What’s Next?

As I escape the most stressful parts of the school year, I can feel my mental health becoming more balanced.  I am hoping to have much more time to invest in this blog.  I am already coming up with a lot of ideas I would like to bring to life.  I can’t wait!

One decision I had to make was whether or not I would return to camp this summer.  Getting into these shows were a pretty good incentive to not return.  However, I believe I made this decision quite some time ago.  My summers devoted to camp are over and I am at complete peace about it.  Of course, I will be making plenty of visits to see my friends and my brother who will be working on staff at camp. 🙂

Thank you so much for tuning in to this life update.  There will be much more to come and I can’t wait!

The God of Everywhere

god

I have this great opportunity that allows me to get paid for singing in church.

A member of the congregation at the First Presbyterian Church in my college town donated a grant to the choir program for college students to get paid for singing in the choir.  I love singing and I love church (and of course wouldn’t mind being paid!) so this is an ideal opportunity for me.  Every Sunday I go to the Presbyterian Church at 8:30am for choir practice.

I really enjoy singing in the choir.  It’s a small and informal practice every week.  Most of the other choir members are retirement aged members of the congregation, except for one or two other college students.  Everyone is extremely friendly and I think the typical conversation in the room is quaint and polite.  The music is lovely too.  I like to be kept on my toes by sight reading music once a week.

However, I didn’t grow up in a Presbyterian church.  I’ve found them to be a bit more traditional than I’m used to. At the same time, I am missing all three services at the church I prefer to attend.  When the service seems to drag on, I think to myself this:

The God of Hillside Church is the God of the First Presbyterian Church too.

In more applicable terms: God is present everywhere.  Where you are now, and wherever it is you want to be.

I would be will willing to bet that everyone has wanted to be somewhere else at some point in their life.  Maybe you have wished that God would have placed you in a more exciting line of work.  Or perhaps you wish you were in a slower pace of life.  Maybe you have been in a place where you don’t feel appreciated.  Human beings are pretty good at finding fault with what we have.

I have a lot of friends who are literally all over the world.  They are pursuing the desire that God has placed in their hearts to know Him and his people more.  It really seems like they are “out there” doing God’s work.  It often seems to me that going to college and getting a degree in theatre is a less glamorous option.   It seems like it doesn’t exactly align with the following verse.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19-20

How often do we let that sink in?  God is always with us.  When you try something new, and when you fail.  When you do something scary or something bad, He is with you.  God is with you even when you wish He wasn’t there, and He is most certainly there when you need him most.

god

It’s hard to comprehend because there is nothing in this world that we can compare to the presence of God.  Recently God has been revealing to me some things that are simply head knowledge versus the things I truly believe in my heart.  I would say there is a difference between knowing that God is always with you and actually knowing.  This is something I am working on making more than just head knowledge- closer to wisdom of the heart.

What I’ve come to realize is that going to college and getting a degree in theatre is going out into the world.  God doesn’t make mistakes when He decides what direction your life is going to take.  Not everybody is called overseas to experience the vast world God has created, and you are no less of a servant because of the path you’re on.   The God of the world is the God of where you are right now.

9 Simple New Year’s Resolutions

resolutions

Even though it’s the dead of winter, New Years is the ideal time for new beginnings!  New Year’s resolutions are exciting, but the question is: what resolution is right for you?  Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint what exactly needs to be done in your life to have a personal revolution.  But why do New Year’s resolutions have to have such high stakes?  If you’re looking for some change with the new year, but not a drastic plan of evolution, consider some of these simple but effective resolutions.

Read More Books

I used to be an avid reader when I was in grade school.  I was absolutely obsessed with several different book series.  I really love reading, but so many things get in the way.  Usually, I make the excuse of not having enough time on my hands, but I can’t really say that when I’m filling it with Netflix and Youtube videos.  I think reading one book a month is a good goal to start off with.  I’m taking recommendations now!  If you’re a blogger (or any type of creative) I would highly recommend Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  You can read my review here.

Try Something New

I think this is a pretty common resolution for people.  Trying to expand your horizons with something new every month, or every week, or every day is an admirable goal.  I think we can simplify this just by changing our mindset towards new things.  Teach yourself to be more open about trying different things and look forward to change in your life.

Be Healthier

This is probably the #1 resolution for many people, but it’s probably the #1 failure as well.  Instead of sticking to a rigorous diet or exercise regime, commit to simply adaptive your daily routine and habits.  Hardcore changes in lifestyle almost always fail, so just make yourself more open to healthier options.  Start by drinking more water!

Use Less

Brainstorm some ways that you can cut back.  Try to take shorter showers or not charge your phone for longer than you need to.  Throw away or give away things that you don’t have a use for or a place to store.  It always feels good to know that your are playing a little part in cutting back on waste.

Pick a Word

I’m a fan of picking a word for a particular season of life I’m going through.  What better time to start a new season than New Years?  I am in the habit of picking one word to let go of for the year as well.  You can read about my focus words for the last season of my life here.  I have found that picking these words have given me something to cling to when my mind and energies are spent elsewhere.  How much simpler can you get than one word?

Go to bed earlier

This happens to be a particular favorite of mine!  I love being in a routine that gets enough sleep with a quiet evening at home.  Who couldn’t benefit from waking up earlier and feeling more rested?  If I had my way, I would be in bed by 10:30pm every night, however, this isn’t always possible for full-time students.  I think turning out the lights before midnight with a good half hour of quiet time beforehand is a good alternative.

Read the Bible More

A New Year is a new opportunity to get into the Word more!  Start this year by making a commitment to spend more time with God, and the best way to do that is to read more of the Bible.  Some other things you can do to have a more rewarding quiet time is journaling, drawing, listening to or playing music, and reflecting on what you’ve learned.  I even have a post about how getting into the practice of reading your Bible can make you a better student.

Reflect

The Honors Program at my college has instilled in me the benefit of reflection.  This is totally up for interpretation.  Maybe you would like to keep a journal, or draw your life, or start a blog.  2017 is a great year to start a blog!  Either way, putting your thoughts into words has always been a beneficial practice for me, especially through this blog.  You’ve got thoughts and feelings that mean something, why not share with others?

Be Friendlier

Sometimes friendliness means going above and beyond what you would normally do as a friend or acquaintance.  Support others and be more open minded.  Be more generous, more encouraging, or more willing to help out.  It doesn’t hurt to be kind!

 

Making the Most of Semester Break

relax

The long awaited semester break is a time to relax, recharge, and catch up on some things that may have gotten away from you during the semester.  Whether you are on break for a month or a week, it’s important to make the most of whatever time you have.  For myself, I certainly need to recharge for next semester, but there are still plenty of items on my “to-do” list.  Here, I have organized some of the most important things semester break is for.

Relax

I don’t know about you guys, but I poured a lot of energy into this past semester.  Although it was a time of growth and learning, I know I have to plenty of recovering to do from all the energy I spent this semester.  No matter where you are at in life, sometimes you just need to take some time for YOU.  Here are my suggestions to relax over the break.

Coloring

Who doesn’t love coloring?  You can easily find printable coloring pages online, or you can get a coloring book full of pictures.  I am a real fan of adult coloring books, particularly these ones featuring verses of scripture.  Don’t forget to find your favorite package of markers or colored pencils.  I find coloring to be so relaxing, especially when I put on some good music!

Playing an instrument

Being on break, I’ve had more time to play my guitar.  Although I wouldn’t call myself very good by any means, it’s still something I like to do that relaxes me.  I you’re feeling up to it, this may be a great time to pick up a totally new musical skill.

TV or Movie Series

I bet I can count the number of movies I watched this semester on one hand.  Since being home I’ve watched the entire Harry Potter series with my family and now we are working on  The Lord of the Rings series (extended editions, of course!)  I didn’t have Netflix all semester, but in the last couple weeks of school, I caved in.  If you haven’t watched The Crown yet, I would 10/10 highly recommend!

Read!

You guys, what I wouldn’t give for a quality novel!  If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments!  Nevertheless, I plan to read a couple plays over break.  The first one on my list is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  The search for monologue material never ends!

Recharge

As much as I love lying around the house all day, I know I have to do a couple things to keep myself sharp for the next semester.  Don’t let this semester sneak up on you!  Take a few minutes to make a mental list of what would be most beneficial for you to recharge during break.

See some friends

Even though I may have a tendency to be a shut-in at times, I still think it’s important to see some familiar faces.  Especially if you are back in your hometown, try to get together with some old friends.  Coffee dates are fine, or maybe you and your friends would like to collaborate on a photoshoot.  An update to my headshots is the perfect opportunity to get together with friends.

Remember your goals

Along with all the exhaustion, I experienced this semester, I seemed to get a little off track with the overarching goals I’ve set in place.  Not so much my academic/performance goals, but the goals for my blog have suffered big time.  The time and distance away from school has helped me remember why I started this blog in the first place.  What are some goals you would like to get back to?

Take care of yourself

As tempting as Christmas dinner is, try not to eat it all winter break.  You will feel a lot better if you keep your health in mind over break (especially if you are living in the dorms, enjoy this break from cafeteria food!)  Maybe go on a run or take a hike with some friends, weather permitting.  I know I need to do a fair amount of stretching to stay in shape for when I get back into my dance classes this semester.  Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!

Get Ahead

Perhaps one of the most beneficial things about semester break is that it gives students a chance to catch up and even get ahead in some details.  Amidst the hustle of class schedules, there are those things on everybody’s to-do list that just seem to never get done.

Get organized

Maybe, you’re like me, and you find organizing to be relaxing.  Organize your room, your schedule, your school supplies, or perhaps your blog.  Tie up some loose ends and get a clearer perspective on your to-do list.

Get ready for school

I don’t have a very good track record with preparing for a semester before it actually starts, but this time around I am determined to get ahead.  It helps that I will likely be needing only two textbooks this semester!  This way, I have plenty of time to look for less expensive alternatives than just going to the school bookstore.  Have you applied for FAFSA yet?  FAFSA was actually available on October 1st, but I’m just getting around to it now… Nobody’s perfect.

So there you have it!  Just a couple things to focus on during this semester break.  Don’t forget to pet a lot of cats.  I hope you all get to relax and recover enough to have an amazing semester.  Let me know some of your favorite things to do over winter break!




Tips to Write the Perfect Paper

paper

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Analyze.AcademicHelp.net.  All content and opinions are my own.  Thank you!

It seems like no matter what your major is, your professors always find some way to utilize essay writing in their curriculum.  With finals just around the corner, it’s a good idea to brush up on the essential elements to writing a good paper.  Whether you feel like your writing skills are up to par, or you know you need to make some improvements, here are 10 tips to help you write the perfect college paper!

1. Define Your Goal

First things first, you need to know exactly what you are trying to achieve with your paper.  Is this a research essay?  Reflection paper?  What prompt have you been given for this paper?  I usually copy and paste the essay prompt to the top of the document while I’m writing a paper.  It helps me stay focused on what I’m trying to achieve so I don’t go off on any tangents.  Usually, you are trying to answer a question with a paper.  Make sure you know what question it is.

2. Always Create an Outline

Always, always, always create an outline.  This is usually the first thing I do after I determine my thesis.  Your outline should have at least three main points of your essay, and two or more sub-points to back these up.  I am usually not too picky with my outlines at first, and I always contain more points than I think I will actually need.

3. Write down everything

As you’re writing, don’t hesitate to write down anything that comes to mind; as long as you keep it organized.  You never know what may become of a crazy idea that comes to you on a whim.  You can always edit things out later if it doesn’t fit in your paper.

4. Plan to write more than what’s needed

I would much rather edit out superfluous information than scramble to meet a word count on an essay.  Plan to write more than what you need, then edit it down to only your best writing.  Sometimes I write a complete paragraph and then realize it really doesn’t belong in my essay, in which case I’m glad I planned to write some extra material.

5. Save introduction for last

This may be standard operating procedure for many people, but that’s because it works.  I much prefer waiting to see what my paper turns out to be, then write an introduction that reflects it.  The same goes for conclusions and transition paragraphs if you plan to write those.

6. Avoid certain words

You should know if your professor is comfortable with you using first person words like “I” and “me.”  However, you may find your writing improves dramatically if you completely nix words like “very” and “really” as well.  Sure, it may seem easy to write the same way you speak, but your professors may not agree.  Instead of saying something like “I was really excited to see the show” try thinking a bit more professional sounding, such as “the audience was buzzing with anticipation of the performance.”  Some other words I try to avoid in my writing are “also” and “that.”  It’s made a huge difference in the quality of work I produce!

7. Substantial supporting evidence

No matter what you are writing, keep in mind to always back up your ideas.  It should be a constant call and response of claims and evidence.  This applies to any type of paper you are writing, but particularly pay attention to this when writing argumentative essays

8. Take breaks

Maybe you are the kind of person who can focus on something for hours on end, but I definitely am not.  Breaks are a strategic way to keep your mind focused on the task at hand.  Sometimes I can be responsible with my time and how long I am on break, but other times I require more discipline.  If you are really struggling with writing a paper, try giving yourself a short break every 15-30 minutes.  (If your break involves Pinterest, you might want to time yourself to only a few minutes!)

9. Get some feedback

After you’ve finished your rough draft, it’s a good idea to get a second pair of eyes to look at your paper.  You can grab a friend, your mom, or even check out some resources online!  One such service is Analyze.AcademicHelp.net.  Their service will help catch all the little things you miss in any paper such as proper spelling, punctuation, possessives, and more.

paper

I gave this service a try on an essay I had to write for a theatre class.  They caught several things I missed when I proofread my paper.  There is an actual person who will read over your paper and make corrections.  You can even correspond with them in the chatbox on the right and ask questions about your paper.  If you are looking for a second opinion on your paper, I would recommend checking Analyze.AcademicHelp.net!

10. Learn from your mistakes

After you turn in your paper, there is really nothing you can do.  Whether this is a relief or more cause for worry, it’s important to look at the work you’ve done and learn.  With every paper you write, get as much feedback as you can and apply it to the next paper you write.  Your writing skills will improve immensely with time and effort!