Where Am I This Summer?

 

where am i this summer?

Here’s the warning: Laughs Without Fear is on hiatus for the summer.

I really hate it, but the fact of the matter is that I simply will not have a lot of time to work on the blog this summer.  This makes me pretty sad because blogging is a blast and I will miss so many things about it.  I love interacting with readers and sharing tips with other bloggers.  I LOVE finding new blogs to read.  I am particularly fond of the college blogging community that I have grown to be a part of.  Not to mention, I love seeing my traffic increase, which certainly isn’t going to happen while I’m away.

The good part is that I get to go back to camp!  (Insert happy-dance here!)  For my second summer at camp, I am pretty sure it’s going to be twice the fun!  Camp is amazing, but it is a full-time commitment.  The camp I work at is an overnight camp, so the staff lives on site and we always work on the weekends.  In fact, I may only have the chance to go home one or twice the whole summer.

But the thing is, being at camp is hands-down the most fun way to spend the summer.  Over the course of last summer, I became best friends with my coworkers.  I got to work outside and go to the beach every day.  Most importantly, I got to spend the whole summer talking about God and experiencing him touch the lives of hundreds of people.  Plus, the food is superb.  How could I not be excited to go back?

Living the camp life isn’t always easy, though.  For example, we work some pretty long hours.  When you live in a cabin with your campers, you are basically working 24/7.  There are always projects to work on and places to clean.  It can also be a very emotionally taxing job.  We strive to create an atmosphere where kids are not afraid to talk about their lives and their relationship with God.  Sometimes these kids have been through more than I could ever imagine.  Lack of sleep and emotional roller-coasters make for a pretty tough, but fulfilling job.  If you are thinking about working at camp, here are 10 Reasons Why You Should Be A Camp Counselor.

Here is what a typical day at camp looks like:

7:00am- Staff devotions.  I think it’s so important that we have this time together and with God to prepare for our day at camp.

8:00am- Breakfast with the campers.  Depending on the number of campers, meals can take a long time.

9:00am- Rotations.  The counselors and campers do some activities around camp like boating, hiking, low ropes, etc.  During this time, the kitchen crew cleans up breakfast and the lifeguards do work projects around camp.

10:30am- Chapel.  I love this part!  During morning chapel, we usually hear a staff member give their testimony and from someone about a mission trip that they’ve been on.

12:00pm- Lunchtime!

1:00pm- Afternoon game.  Usually involving face-paint and a lot of running.

2:00pm- Free time until dinner.  Campers can go to the beach, the craft cabin, rock wall, or any other activity around camp.  Staff is usually working at one of these activities or on their break.

6:00pm- Dinnertime.  Before dinner, anybody who has received mail has to embarrass themselves in order to get it.

7:30pm- Evening chapel.  For this chapel session, we get to hear from the amazing speaker that stays the week with us!

9:00pm- Night game! Again with the face-paint and running, except it’s always more exciting in the dark.

10:30pm- Cabin devos.  Counselors are with their campers in their cabins or somewhere around the camp.  Lifeguards, kitchen crew, and other staff usually have some adventure at this time.

11:00pm- Lights out.  Maybe.  Pranks are always a possibility.

So, in case you’re wondering what I’m doing this summer, this is the gist of it.  I couldn’t be more excited to return to camp, but I will miss working on the blog.  I may be posting every now and then, but I will really have to see how things work out.

What are you guys up to this summer?  If you are a blogger, what are you planning to work on?

How To Choose A Good Profile Photo For Your Blog- And How Not To

how to choose a good profile photo for your blog

These days, every good blog has a small bio of the author usually near the top of the page.  Usually, this bio contains the first photo that a visitor sees on a site.  The best blogs show a friendly face to the people who are kind enough to visit their blog.  Think of it as a first impression!

Being a theatre major, I like to put things into actor-terms.  Think of your profile photo on your sidebar as a headshot that an actor would use when they are auditioning for a role.  Essentially, you are a blogger auditioning for an audience.  When an actor prepares a headshot, they make sure that their photo is an accurate representation of their features.  As a blogger, you want your photo to represent not only your features but your personality as well.

Let me tell you, seeing a bad profile photo of a blogger on their site is a such a turn off to me and other readers.  Not choosing the right profile photo can cause a disconnect between you and your audience, and your readers won’t feel connected to your blog.  Make sure your sidebar photo encourages a connection between you and your readers as if you were meeting them in person.  Here is a compilation of common mistakes that I see bloggers using in their profile photos.

How Not To Choose A Photo

The Serious Sunglasses

What’s wrong: Well, first off we can’t see your eyes if you use this photo. You will see that not having a clear view of the eyes is a recurring problem. People like to wear sunglasses in their photos because it might make them “look cool”, but it also adds a touch of mystery to the photo. Anybody could be behind those shades. That, combined with a slight pout, can make for a pretty fierce photo. However, your audience doesn’t want to see a mystery, they want to see you.

how to choose a good profile photo for you blog the serious sunglasses

 

i'm so cute when i look at the ground

The “I’m so cute when I look at the ground”

What’s Wrong:  What better way to look adorable than by smiling to the ground, right?  However, this photo doesn’t really give us a good view of your face.  You can’t see your eyes and your features get distorted because we can only see this viewpoint.  Think of it this way: If Snapchat couldn’t put a filter on your face, you probably shouldn’t use that photo.

 

The Longshot Profile

What’s Wrong:  Well, don’t you look cool!  However, your audience couldn’t really recognize you if you decided to wear a different outfit.  Remember, your audience should be able to have a clear view of your face.  Not that this is a bad photo, it just doesn’t give your audience a clear introduction to your face.  Save it for Instagram.

how to choose a good photo- longshot profile

 

how to choose a good photo- i'm too cool to look at you

The “I’m too cool to look at you”

What’s Wrong:  This photo presents an immediate disconnect from your audience.  Even if there were no sunglasses, your focus isn’t at a place that would be easily relatable to your audience.  Honestly, it looks like you have better things to do.

 

The Shameless Selfie

What’s Wrong:  Selfies (no matter how good) don’t present the kind of professional atmosphere you want if you plan on running a successful blog.  Be aware, we can always tell when you’ve taken a photo yourself.  Always.  Simply grabbing a friend to snap a couple pics of you in some good lighting is miles ahead of the Shameless Selfie.  Also, don’t have a duck face in the first photo your readers see of you.  Please.

how to choose a good photo- shameless selfie

 

how to choose a good photo- i'm gonna punch you in the face

The “I’m gonna punch you in the face”

What’s Wrong:  Who doesn’t love a good serious photo?  It makes us all feel pretty epic sometimes, but use caution!  If you look like you want to punch your audience in the face, they won’t feel very welcome on your blog.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve visited a blog with a serious photo of the author and thought “Dude, stop taking yourself so seriously.”  Lighten up!  Think of your profile photo as a friendly “hello!” welcoming your audience into your space.

 

The Neck

What’s Wrong:  A close cousin of The Cut-off Eyebrows and The Half-Face.  As they say, the eyes are the window to the soul, so make sure you show your sparkling eyes!  If someone runs into you, they won’t recognize you because of your collarbone.  Never cut off any part of your face in your profile photo.

how to choose a good photo- the neck

 

how to choose a good photo- the over edit

The Over Edit

What’s Wrong:  This is an easy trap to fall into, but never over edit your photos.  Adding filters and upping the saturation may to wonders for your complexion, but it looks fake.  Over edited photos make it look like you’re trying to hide from your readers.  People respond to authenticity, so don’t be afraid to not look perfect in a photo.

Choosing a good photo

Just like there are so many ways to choose a bad photo, there are equally as many ways to choose a good one.  With that being said, here are a few pro-tips when it comes to the profile photo on your blog. 🙂

1)  Your photo does not need to be perfect.  In fact, your audience may find comfort in being assured that there is a really human running your blog

2)  Use the same photo across all your social media accounts.  It easier for your followers to find you all across the internet if they can immediately recognize your photo.

3)  You are part of your brand.  Having a face to associate with a brand is essential when you are growing your blog.  People are willing to trust someone who is ready to show their face.

Here are some pretty amazing bloggers that really intrigued me with their profile photo on their blog.

 

Kayla | kaylablogs.com
Kayla is one of my favorite bloggers, and I think her headshot is just stunning!  You can clearly see her whole face and she is smiling.  Not to mention the overall photo has a bright and brilliant color that enhances the theme of her blog.  This is a great example of a professional photo!

how to choose a good photo- kayla

 

how to choose a good photo- kels
Kels | kelssays.com
Kelsey is another college blogger who started blogging about the same time I did.  Honestly, her profile photo is one of the reasons I keep coming back to her blog.  She just looks so happy!  I can definitely see her positivity that she portrays in her blog coming out through her photo.

 

Ivy | perfectlyambitious.com
Ivy is another blogger who started her blogging journey about the same time I did, and I must say, she is killing it!  Her friendly face is just the beginning of the community that she has created around her blog for bloggers and other people with chronic illnesses like her.  Way to go Ivy!
how to choose a good photo- ivy

 

how to choose a good photo- brooke

Brooke | www.chasingmyarrow.com
I am a pretty new follower of Brooke’s blog, but I just couldn’t ignore such a great profile photo.  I particularly like her Wonder Woman stance in her photo.  This is a great example of showing off some of your personality in your photo, but still keeping it welcoming and professional!

Meet My Cats!

cats

In the short time that I have been home from college, I have been spending so much time with my feline friends, whom I missed very much while I was away.  Since this blog is about my life, I decided to introduce them to you!  During this last semester, I only got to go home once, and that was only two weeks into the term, so I went for months without seeing my cats!  What’s worse is that I barely left campus during this time (except for my trip to New York City, which was a blast!) and I had no animal interaction at all.  I believe it took an immense toll on my sanity and I am glad it’s over!

My dad is a veterinarian, so it’s safe to say that animals have been a part of my life from the very beginning.  My dad has been running his own practice for several years now, and we adopted most of our pets because of somebody who came into his clinic with an animal in need of a home.  We are thankful for them every day, so let me introduce you!

 

Barty Crouch

meet my cats! -barty crouch profile

Yep, you read that right.  We named him after an obscure character in Harry Potter, just because we love Harry Potter!  Although, there has been some debate as to whether he was named after Barty Crouch Sr. or Barty Crouch Jr.  Not that it really matters, because he has made a name for himself!  He is by far the naughtiest kitty in our household.  He relentlessly tries to eat everything in sight.  Furthermore, he remains unphased by our attempts to shoo him from the kitchen.  He is constantly getting into trouble!

meet my cats! -barty crouch naughty

Did I mention that Barty only has one eye?  He makes up for it with personality.  Barty came into our clinic as a tiny kitten.  He was brought in by a Humane Society that intended for him to get all fixed up and ready to adopt.  Unfortunately, Barty’s left eye was badly infected beyond the point of saving, and so my dad had to remove it.  If we hadn’t decided to adopt Barty, I’m sure he would have been picked up immediately by another nice family looking to care for a half-blind kitten.  In that case, we would have cursed somebody else with his naughtiness and he probably wouldn’t have been named after a Harry Potter character.  Still, he can be awfully sweet and he was an adorable kitten!

meet my cats! -barty crouch kitten

 

Ruthie Mae

meet my cats! -ruthie mae profile

We adopted Ruthie Mae about 10 years ago, and she has changed our family completely!  She is probably the sweetest and most sensitive cat you will ever meet.  She is also quite the chatterbox and hunter of socks.  When Ruthie Mae was brought into our clinic, she was a shy stray cat that had been caught in the woods by a client.  After a while, she warmed up to our entire family, and the rest is history!  Ruthie has tons of personality, which you can observe on her Instagram account!  Follow Ruthie Mae here!

One time my mom bought this bowl that she was planning to use as a fruit bowl.  Almost as soon as Ruthie saw the bowl, she decided that it was hers.  Ever since then, the bowl has been known as Ruthie’s bowl. 🙂

 

Jasmine

Jasmine is my cat.  I found Jasmine when she was just a kitten and I was only 8 years old.  Ever since then she has been my cat.  She is not very cuddly and she doesn’t really like to be petted.  She tolerates other people and animals only at the best of times.  But she is still my favorite!

meet my cats! -jasmine profile

Isn’t she pretty?

meet my cats! -jasmine window

 

… And Bow

Ok, I couldn’t leave out Bow.  Even though I am much more of a cat person, I do love the family black lab.  Bow is about 8 years old, but he still acts like a puppy, and sometimes I think he wants to be a cat.  We tease him for his lack of intelligence, but he is still a friendly dog.

*Update* -Bow unfortunately passed away in August of 2016.  He was unexpectedly put down due to an abdominal tumor.  As much as we teased him, we adored this lovable dog.  It was incredibly sad to see him go at such a young age, but I’m glad we got to be the family that loved him.

meet my cats! -bow profile

Thanks for checking out my critters!

How I Got A’s in All My Classes This Semester

classes

Sometime during high school I realized that I was a was a good student.  After that, I realized that I had to work to keep it that way.  I actually wish I had realized these things sooner because it seems that there is always one person ahead of you in some way.  Although I may have surpassed a lot of people in academics, there were certainly several people ahead of me in my high school class.  Just a few numbers can mean the difference between thousands of dollars in scholarship money or awards.

But I am happy to announce that I got A’s in all my classes this semester!  After several long months, all my hard work has finally paid off.  Even if you totally expected to receive good grades, it’s still worth being proud of!  Today, I would like to share some of the tips and tricks that helped me bump up my GPA.  Quick disclaimer: I realize that everyone is an individual, and there is no right or wrong way to achieve success in your classes.  What works for me might not work for you.  Nevertheless, if my tips can help anyone else, I am happy to share the love!  Without further ado, here is how I got A’s in all my classes this semester!

I study something I love

I hope this goes without saying, but loving your education makes college a million times more endurable.  If you truly love the content and the work that goes into your classes, then your classwork don’t seem nearly as grueling!  Because I am a theatre major, most people realize right away that I am in this major purely because I love it.  On the flip-side, I have talked to plenty of people who adore theatre and have maybe even considered going to college for it, but they are scared to take the plunge.  But, trust me, my college experience is a blast because I am studying something I am passionate about.  I couldn’t imagine it any other way!

I am not alone in my classes

Now, I realize my major is pretty different from other fields of study, but I still benefit so much from the community of theatre majors I am surrounded by.  In my theatre classes, I always have several of my friends right alongside me which makes it easy to ask questions and collaborate on our classwork.  We frequently discuss our classes and help each other with projects or problems that we encounter.  We also have a lot of fun  in our classes too!

I made plenty of time for my homework

This didn’t always mean that I started a project several weeks before it was due, it just means that I dedicated specific time for working on big projects or papers.  I more or less budgeted my time during the week to have enough time for schoolwork.  I almost never worked on homework after 8pm, just because I didn’t like it!  I still had plenty of time for all my schoolwork.  Productivity is key!  Here are 10 Ways to Be More Productive Right Now.  These habits saved me plenty of time!

I avoided stress

This goes along with budgeting my time during the week.  I mostly didn’t work after 8pm because I needed that time to relax.  I also passed up opportunities to hang out with my friends because I knew I needed to recover from a busy day.  Stressing about school will only have negative effects on your classes, so learn to take control of stress.  Here is A Foolproof Guide to Dealing With Stress in College; all these tips help me conquer stress in my own life which allowed me to focus on school.

I worked on having a healthy attitude

Can I emphasize the word worked?!  This semester was hard!  For the last two months of the semester, I was having a terrible attitude about school.  I didn’t like my classes and I didn’t like living in the dorms, but I got through it!  I tried really hard to have a good attitude and cut the negativity out of my life.  I failed a lot, but I still finished strong and got good grades in all my classes!  Sick of school? Here’s What to Do When You’ve Had Enough of This Semester.

I had a voice in my classes

If I had a problem with something in my classes, I felt no remorse in emailing my professor about my concern.  For example: in my public speaking class, I was giving a speech and a girl walked into class late and completely broke my focus.  She loudly opened the door and walked right in front of me as if I wasn’t even there.  I had seen this happen several other times during other speeches and I had had enough of it.  I emailed my professor and told him that it was very bad speech etiquette to enter a room while someone was giving a speech.  He addressed it with the class and it didn’t happen again.  Do you see what I’m saying?  You are paying for this education, so don’t feel bad about having a voice in your classes.

Confession:

Ok, here’s my secret: getting good grades isn’t very hard for me.  This doesn’t mean I effortlessly get A’s in all my classes all the time, it just means that I’ve worked hard to develop good habits that are now second nature to me.  Developing good academic habits is the easiest way to get straight A’s.  Because of the discipline in instilling these habits, getting A’s this semester was a breeze.

I am always looking for more college or study tips to help boost the good ol’ GPA!  Let me know what tips you have for getting A’s in your classes.  Is getting A’s something that comes easily to you?  Or are you still working on developing good academic habits?  I want to know!

Why Everybody Should Be A Diva

why everybody should be a diva

What do you think of when you hear the word diva?  Chances are you think of someone who is really stuck up, covered in expensive couture, and bossing people around.  The word “diva” has come to mean someone who is generally pretty dislikable, but still seems to get everything they want.

Hang on.  Here is the dictionary definition of what a diva is: a famous female singer of opera.  That’s it.

The term diva has evolved over time, and it is still evolving to this day.  It used to simply mean an accomplished singer, but I frequently hear it being used as an insult or descriptor word of somebody that is pretty high-maintenance.  But as the word has continued to evolve, I think the term diva has come to a completely different definition altogether.  I think the best and most relevant definition of a diva is a person who values their creativity, respects themselves as an individual, and draws attention to themselves because of their authenticity rather than their ego.

Some classic examples of modern divas would be Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé (duh).  These people have achieved diva status not only because of their amazing talent but because they are truly one of a kind.  There are many other singers you may not be aware of who actually do sing opera, and sing it very well.  These people are first-class divas too.

This kind of diva sounds like someone I want to be.  In fact, I think anyone with a creative bone in their body should aspire to become their own brand of diva.  Since I aspire to be both a singer-diva and an overall-creative-diva, here are some steps I’m taking that may help you become a diva as well.

Divas don’t try to copy others, they love being themselves

Has anybody ever become successful by copying others?  No matter what field you are attempting to achieve diva status in, I’m sure you have people you look up to.  However, aspiring to be exactly like these people isn’t your key to success.  I think it’s wonderful that there are so many incredible people that feed my inspiration, but if I’m ever going to be that kind of inspiration for anyone else, I must be totally confident in being myself.

They look fierce all the time

Of course, it is natural to assume that divas “look the part” all the time, but that is not necessarily true.  Real divas own whatever they are wearing because they don’t get their confidence from the clothes they wear or how their makeup looks.  Divas wear whatever they like, even if it doesn’t conform to current trends.  In modern terms, these divas are called trendsetters.

Divas value their own creativity

One of the biggest mistakes an artist can make is selling themselves short.  It’s easy to compare yourself to others and see that you haven’t accomplished as much, but give yourself credit where it is due!  I am so guilty of undermining my success, but it is something I am working on improving.  Every diva knows that what she creates is worth her time and a success in itself.  So don’t sell yourself short!

Every diva knows that what she creates is worth her time and a success in itself. Click To Tweet

They may have fear, but they don’t let it stop them

Obviously, you can’t be a diva if you are constantly checking for approval from others.  No one can truly escape fear, but that doesn’t mean you should let it control you.  Any good diva will look fear in the eye and move on with her life.

Divas lift up themselves by lifting up others

One of the problems I have with the popular definition of a diva is that it seems to imply that divas don’t care about other people’s work, or will even slam the work of others to build herself up.  Divas are of course honest all the time, so when she sees something she likes, she will, of course, say something!  Take every opportunity to praise other divas; they will surely return the favor.  True divas are not threatened by the success of others.

True divas are not threatened by the success of others. Click To Tweet

They don’t need the approval of others to be happy

Divas sing or act or write or paint or do whatever because they love it.  Of course, it’s always nice to have the approval of others at hand, but take it or leave it because you should only be trying to make yourself happy.  If your work can make others happy, great!  But your work doesn’t need the approval of others to survive.

Divas graciously accept compliments and critique

Do you ever find it hard to accept compliments?  I know I do.  Sometimes all you need to say is a simple and sincere “thank you” and leave it at that.  When people compliment you, it’s because you earned it.  So like I said before, don’t sell yourself short and simply accept the good that others see in you.  Likewise, critique can be equally hard to accept, but the same procedure applies.  Whether or not you agree with the critique, smile and say thank you.  It’s the least you can do, and it may help you improve yourself.

While I am still aspiring to become a singer-diva, I am taking these steps so that I can become a diva in all areas of my life.  I believe that divas are a powerhouse of confidence, which they exude in all areas of their life.  In fact, I’m sure we all know plenty of divas in our own lives that are pretty fierce!  It might be your mom, or your best friend, or one of the upperclassmen at your school.  Either way, I believe we all have the power to be a diva.

Oh, and I also think guys can be divas too. 🙂

So, what do you think of this?  Do you like this new-and-improved definition of a diva?  Let me know in the comments what you think about aspiring to become a diva or some divas that you might look up to! 🙂