2014: The year when I turn 18, graduate high school, earn my Associate's Degree, and begin working on my Bachelor's Degree. Theoretically, it should be a fantastic year.

And it's strange, because I don't know if it's like this every year (I became more socially aware this year...that is, I joined Twitter), but everyone claims that 2014 will be the best year yet. My favorite comment is by musical artist BriBry, who tweeted that "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke was voted the best song of 2013, which is proof that 2014 will be better. Which I appreciate, because I despise "Blurred Lines."

But at any rate, I am pretty happy that 2013 is over. There were some good moments, but I am so done with this year. And I'm ready to start my life, even if that means a lot more responsibility and difficult choices...it feels like I'm on the brink of the rest of my life, and adulthood, and that's exciting, even if it's a little bit scary. Terrifying, really.

So with that in mind, I lay forth my resolutions. No, I am not doing resolutions for the entire year. This year, I decided to try something different: resolutions by month. That way, it's easier to tackle a few things at a time, and that the goals/resolutions can evolve and progress with me, throughout the year. My resolutions for the month of January are as follows:

1. Take better care of myself
-Floss and brush so consistently I put my dentist to shame
-Eat regularly, and eat less junk food

2. Achieve my forensics goals
-Work on my time management during my speeches
-Perfect my humor
-Focus less on the less round, and more on the upcoming one

-FAFSA complete
-Scholarship or two a week? Ideally?
-Write 5,000 words in my book. (You didn't see that, and I'm not talking about it)
-Finish Christmas presents for friends (Yes, I'm a failure at presents)

So those are my three for the month of January. Hopefully, I will remember to do this at the beginning/end of every month.

Happy new year!

EDIT: If I do have a resolution for this year, it would have to be to stop and enjoy everything going on. There's going to be a lot going on this year, but I don't want to get caught up in the stress and craziness and all of the things, and totally miss out on one of the best times of my life.


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Lessons from a Long Semester

I have finished the semester. I actually finished my semester ten days ago, but I've been ridiculously busy doing a lot of nothing since then.

But I thought I would blog about what I've learned over the course of this semester, since I've learned a lot. Maybe some of them will help you if you ever have a 17-credit semester while maintaining a part-time job.

First: Staying up super late becomes a habit very quickly.

I had thought that when I didn't have to stay up super late every night to do homework, I would go to bed at 9:30 or 10 every night, and be responsible, and get super rested, etc. Nope. Actually, I've been staying up about as late as I used to, just sleeping in longer in the mornings. It's strange if I'm in bed before 11, and not altogether unusual for it to be after midnight before I turn out the lights. All this to say, maintaining healthy sleeping habits as much as possible is a good idea, because it becomes a very difficult habit to break, and one which I'm sure will end up costing me next semester, when I can't sleep til 10 or 11 in the morning every day.

Second: Make lists.

Sometimes lists can stress people out, but lists are a good way to make sure you don't forget anything. If you have a list down of everything you need to do (even little things like emailing your forensics coach) is a good idea. Even better? Write down how much time each thing will take. It's easy to become overwhelmed when there are twenty things on your list, but when ten of those things take two minutes each, it's easier to handle.

Third: Pick TV shows and movies you've already seen.

Now this applies to only certain people. It was my favorite part of this semester, actually. I watched a lot of TV and movies this semester. I either watched them when I was upstairs with my family, with my laptop in front of me, or let it play background on my laptop while I wrote papers. If you are like me, and can't work with complete silence, then play things in the background! Don't listen to scientists with their crap about multi-tasking! Multi-task if it helps you think. Chances are, you'll stop paying attention to your movie or music, allowing you to focus on your paper, but the very existence of the background sound will help keep your brain quiet. Watching things you've already seen helps you focus better, because you already know what happens. Also, it can help if you watch certain things while you do certain subjects, like for studying, because you'll relate the two. As an example, I did really well during my economics class because I binge-watched Veronica Mars while I did my homework, so I permanently associated the two, helping me remember better.

Fourth: Plan at least one day a month on which to go do something fun.

Take the day off of work, ignore your homework, and go to lunch, go to a movie, hang out with friends. Get out of the house, and let yourself breathe for a little while. I only planned one of these, and I really should have done more. But I loved that day, because it felt so good to just let yourself be irresponsible for once, and not let yourself feel guilty about it. Bonus points if you make a rule with your friends to not talk about school.

Fifth: Listen to your friends and family.

Half of them have really good advice. The other half are in it with you. Listen to their advice. If they say you're making a mountain out of a molehill, you probably are (list-making helps with that). If they say you need a break, take a break. The best advice they'll give you is to sleep--that one is the one you need to listen to most of all, because sleep deprivation isn't good for anyone. The people who are in it with you are probably more likely to be okay with listening to the list of all the things you have to do, and they might be in the same situation you are. They have probably also figured out tricks for dealing with their own craziness. If nothing else, you can threaten each other if you don't finish your homework.

Sixth (and finally): Go to people who know.

We all know one person who is awesome. We like to think of them as perfect human beings. They're the ones who took eight classes, had a job, and competed in four different sports, all at once. And somehow didn't lose their minds. Ask their advice. That was the best thing I did this entire semester. I asked my friend Maddi (love you friend), and she had some really good advice which really helped me (hint: TV shows and list-making with time estimates--sound familiar?). If nothing else, they can encourage you that the world will not end, and you will feel SO GOOD when the semester is over.

So this semester is finally over, and I have maintained my weighted 4.0 GPA, and am happily looking forward to my 13-credit semester (I'm taking French 2, Geology, Jazz Dance, and Ethics--dare I say, best semester ever?) and spending lots of time on forensics. I made it through this semester, and ultimately the greatest thing I learned is not to doubt God. My sanity is intact because of Him, and His faithfulness. So I'd say, if you ever feel overwhelmed, don't discount the awesome ability of God to get you through whatever you're going through. Praise the Lord it's all over!!!

BTW, I got my first acceptance letter!

Christmas Clarification

I was looking through the IMDb page for A Charlie Brown Christmas when I stumbled upon the reviews for the special. I was interested how people would take it, since there is a part of the special when Linus quotes the book of Luke from the Bible, and says that the birth of Christ is what Christmas is all about.

Most of the reviews were positive, saying that the Christmas special was part of Christmas, and was so important, and a tradition for their family, etc. At the very bottom, were six or seven negative reviews, which said basically the same thing: Charlie Brown Christmas promotes Christian propaganda by falsely claiming that Christmas is about the birth of Christ, which is entirely false.

Um, no. Let me explain.

Yes, before the birth of Christ, there were celebrations during the period we typically think of as the "Christmas season"--the problem is, they weren't Christmas. They were the Saturnalia, or other Greek, Norse, and Roman rituals which involved idol worship, blatant sexuality, and general drunkenness and debauchery. We do get lots of traditions from these celebrations--Yule logs, Christmas trees, and kissing under the mistletoe, to name a few. They were not, however, Christmas.

Christmas didn't come until many years later. It was originally created as a religious feast by the Catholic Church to celebrate the birth of Christ. Hence the name: Christmas=Christ's mass. Here's where many people tend to get confused. Though Christ was probably born in what we now call March or April, the Church chose to celebrate his birth in December--specifically, the last day of Saturnalia, on the 25th. Why? Because they hoped to shift the general populace's focus from general debauchery and sin to Christ and His coming.  By choosing a day which the general populace was familiar with already for something the Church believed was negative, they hoped to change the focus to a positive one.

Basically, yes, there are winter celebrations which historically have occurred during the month of December, but no--these were not Christmas. Christmas as a holiday--the reason we celebrate it the way we do (and not with naked singing in the streets and mass orgies)--is because of the Catholic Church trying to change the focus to God. Whether you acknowledge that bit of history or not (and an increasing number of people choose not to) it's still not valid to claim that the true meaning of Christmas, and the reason behind it, isn't a religious one. I will never claim that Christmas can only be celebrated by Christians, but I disagree strongly with those who try to claim that Christians have made Christmas into another opportunity to push Christian propaganda.

However you feel about Christmas and the existence of Christ, I do wish you the very best Christmas season, and hope to continue blogging in the new year--hopefully more frequently.

By the way, my sources include (beyond my own knowledge) the History Channel website, and CNN. Googling the history of Christmas should give you some good, legitimate sites to increase your understanding, if you're interested in learning more about this holiday. If you find anything which contradicts what I have said, please let me know! I'm always open to learning more.

Merry Christmas!

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