Driving Past Baltimore

Night Time Skyline Baltimore Inner Harbor Photograph by Carol Ward
Photo By Carol Ward (@https://fineartamerica.com)

My life has always seemed to orbit around Baltimore, and once again I found myself cruising past the old city, and watching its colors fly by.

What caught my attention was the cruise ship docked in the harbor, its lazy flags waving slowly as if in a wide hello. It seemed to look for its tearful welcome back after being missing for the last two years. The bright reds of the steam pipes seemed freshly painted, and the small boats hanging on its sides were actively being cleaned as passengers, overloaded with luggage, clambered off of its decks and onto the pier below. 

It gave me a warm fuzz in my chest to see an old friend back in port, a boat that I had seen docked in the Baltimore harbor since I was small. When I was little, by dad used to point out of the car on our weekend excursions at the flocks of cruise ships resting at dock and we all would smile thinking of the possible adventures the futures it might hold on its wooden floorboards and atop its steaming engine. When it disappeared from the harbor during COVID, I don’t think I noticed it the first time, too caught on tightening the elastic loops on my mask to keep the germs out. But I noticed it now, driving home, as its bustle brought back a sense of security I had not felt in years.

I know the world isn’t healed, and I am not sure it ever will be, but I can’t help but feel comfort in seeing the blossoms of life that disappeared during the pandemic years we struggled through. Yes, the trash litters the dirt, but the flowers are beginning to bloom again, and I can’t help but smile at the butterflies and bees they welcome home. 

It is hard not to think it is all bad, that the world has only escalated since our time trapped indoors. Yes, a lot of bad has come out of this world in the last two years, and I know I for one have had piles of grief pressing down my shoulders for months now, but I can’t seem to help the smile I feel looking at my old city come back to life around me, to watch it shake the dust from its coat and sing once more. 

Driving home, the city to my right, strings of lights hazed the satin navy nighttime. They seemed suspended, haloing skyscrapers with yellow and blue and gold. They colored the wet street beds like autumn leaves on a meandering river. A holiday, a bright welcome home; every street corner bathed in the red and green and gold of Christmas all times of year. Cars blinked their neons to the beat of trains and slowed to watch the stagnant fireworks in the skys, as people gathered near street lamps and complexes, and played the game of the passerby. Those at home snuggle in bed, open their windows to strangers and cast swaths of foggy auburn through their curtains. The city is alive with traffic lights and radio towers, filled with airplanes celebrating their future here and at home. It is like a billion friends gathered to honor you coming in, coming back, going through. A parade to sleep peacefully.

It is not all bad. Out there, cruising down the highway, suspended just above the beauty of the bay, and watching my childhood playground pass by, and watching more lights flicker on, I cannot help but think it is not all bad. If we cannot find beauty in the world we suffer in, what is the point of suffering? If we cannot find solace in the growth around us, what is the point of persevering on? 

It is hard not to cry on nights like this, when the world shows just what picking itself up from the dirt means. There is only one cruise ship in the harbor now, not the swarms I knew when I was little, but just this one lights up the city like a new Christmas tree, filled with hope I didn’t know I had missed during its months away.

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Fall is Here

Welcome to all, and to all are welcome.  

It’s that magical time of year again full of beautiful colors, crazy costumes, delicious foods, and of course pumpkin spice. This is truly a special time of the year. I think back to a year ago and remember how hard it was spending this time so confined. That being said, I hope everyone finds something special to do during this incredible time, and I would encourage you all to find a way to give back as well. Me and the business I work for are planning to donate an entire thanksgiving meal to a family in need and have started our fundraising plan. It is one of the best feelings in the world being able to help others. I think it is that reminder in life that we all need to really understand that so many things in this world are bigger than ourself.

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

In addition to everything that is amazing about this season, this time of year deserves celebration for another reason as well. We are halfway through our semester! I want to commend all of you for making the progress you have made thus far. I am fully aware that this process is not easy, migrating through school, with work and other responsibilities mixed in as well. However, despite these obstacles you have been able to answer the call every single time, and I could not be prouder to say I am a member of this determined and resilient Shady Grove community. So as this semester continues, remember that this no limit to what you can do and all this immense amount of effort that are sacrificing now will all work out for your benefit in the end.

I want to personally thank you all as well. Through this blog you have given me an opportunity to reflect and connect with myself on such a deep level. These past few weeks have not been the easiest for me. Have you ever felt like you’re just standing still in life, going through the motions as they come up? I have been feeling that way lately. I felt like I have put so much time and energy into my studies, my work, everything really, but I have not seen the results that I would like. It can be very disheartening being in that position. However, I remember that although what I do may not be perfection, it is progress. We are all on this transformative journey and different phases of that journey will move at different paces. I had gotten so accustomed to counting laps, that I didn’t pay attention to the steps. It is so crucial to remember that no matter how big or small, any step forward is an accomplishment. I vowed that from now on, I will work on appreciating the little accomplishments on my journey. As long as you are waking up every day with the goal to be better than the day before, you are on the right path to make all of dreams come true.

So, we are going into this new season ready be better than before, help others along the journey, and complete this semester. Come on say it with me now,

I can overcome anything

I can achieve everything

I will stand for something

P.S. Man this weather is co confusing. In the morning I am bumbled up like a tortilla, just take it all off and dress like I am going to the beach in the afternoon. I am official done with trusting my weather app on my phone.

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Best Tim Burton Movies That You Can Enjoy Watching During Halloween

Well, it’s that time again, where the ghosts and ghouls are coming out, dressed in their most horrific selves, and be walking through the streets trying to get themselves some candy. Since we’re too old to do that now, and be doing that, there’s another better way you can enjoy your Halloween. Either by yourself, or with a group of friends, just grab a big tub of popcorn, curl yourself up in front of the TV, and watch some of the creepiest, darkest movies that’s made and directed by one of the best film directors: Tim Burton!

Tim Burton is well-known for his distinct cinematic style, which has contributed to the success of his films. In films such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton’s style is distinguished by his use of sound tracking, lighting, and costuming. While not all of his films are particularly frightening, it is the dark, gothic, and eccentric nature in most of his films that makes them worth watching again and again! So, if you like dark and weird, here are a few Tim Burton films that you wouldn’t want to miss watching!

  1. Nightmare Before Christmas

Even though The Nightmare Before Christmas is widely regarded as one of Tim Burton’s best films, he did not direct it; however, he did contribute to its creation by incorporating his distinct dark, surreal cinematic style as well as his unique stop-motion techniques. The film follows Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the King of Halloween Town, as he grows tired of celebrating the same holiday year after year. One day, Jack unintentionally discovers Christmas Town, and learns about Christmas. Jack decides that he wants to bring some Christmas into Halloween — by having them be the ones who bring the toys and presents to all the children in the world! Continue to watch to see how the scary monsters try incorporating Christmas in their way!  

  • Corpse Bride

The Corpse Bride is one of the many Tim Burton movies in which Johnny Depp stars in!  Victoria (Emily Watson) and Victor (Johnny Depp) are scheduled to marry in an arranged marriage. Victor goes to the woods to rehearse his vows, nervous about the fact that he doesn’t know her, and accidently wakes the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter), unwittingly marrying her in the process. Victor is initially disgusted by the Corpse Bride, but as he comes to know her, he discovers that there is much to adore in her.

  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Another movie starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd, is a dark and gory musical. Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp), formerly known as Benjamin Barker, is a barber who partners with Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), a baker, to open a bakery. He used to be happily married with a daughter until the frightening Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) wrongly convicted him of a crime and sentenced him to prison. Todd opens a barbershop after being released from prison and begins murdering his customers. Mrs. Lovett makes pies out of them, which she sells in the shop, while Todd plots his vengeance on the judge.

  • Edward Scissorhands

Another one of Tim Burton’s best films, Edward Scissorhands is a sad supernatural romance starring Johnny Depp as the titular figure, a boy brought to life by a kind but eccentric creator (Vincent Price). The inventor dies before completing his work, leaving the youngster with scissors for hands and little capacity to survive on his own. People are terrified of Edward when he wanders out into suburbia, but that doesn’t stop him from falling in love with Kim (Winona Ryder), the daughter of the family that takes him in. Edward begins to make friends with Kim and uses his special skills to style hair and plants, gradually becoming accepted by the community. But, of course, fear of the unknown triumphs, and Edward and Kim must strive to avoid being judged by strangers. Tim Burton’s love of outcasts is shown in “Edward Scissorhands,” which employs the best of his Gothic vision to create a frightening but family-friendly Halloween atmosphere.

  • Beetlejuice

Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam (Alec Baldwin) are an ordinary young married couple who die in a horrible car accident — but that’s just the start of their story. They must figure out how to kick out the new family who has moved in because they are tied to their prior home (which they now haunt). Barbara and Adam learn how to take their hauntings to the next level with the help of Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton). However, as they grow closer to the family’s daughter, Lydia (Winona Ryder), they realize they don’t want to injure or scare away the newcomers. “Beetlejuice” has lots of genuine scares and laughs, and is a sweet paranormal story that’s perfect for All Hallow’s Eve.

  • Sleepy Hollow

Based upon the well-known Halloween legend about Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horesemen, this movie is one more Johnny Depp movie Investigator Ichabod Crane is summoned to the tranquil and close-knit community of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a string of decapitations, and Johnny Depp reprises his role as the uneasy but determined constable. The tale of the Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken), a Revolutionary War ghost, haunts Sleepy Hollow. When the Horseman’s head is taken from his grave, he returns to collect the heads of Sleepy Hollow residents until his own is returned. While trying to figure out who has the head and how to save the town, Ichabod falls in love with Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci). “Sleepy Hollow” maintains Burton’s dreamlike horror aesthetic, and comes with a good tale that makes it a must-see Halloween film, despite some of the genuinely horrific violence behind it.

Just by checking these out, you’re not only bound to enjoy watching just these, but you’re also bound to want to find more of Tim Burton’s works that you want to watch during any time!

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Controlling What You Can

Feeling like things are out of control right now? Here are a few safe and inexpensive things you CAN control to make yourself feel like you’re on top of your stuff.

My current hair color dream – from arcticfoxhaircolor.com

Dye Your Hair

If you decide to do this at home, always do your research and follow safety instructions! If you do it right and do it safely, at-home hair bleaching and dying can literally feel like a fresh coat of paint and give you some newfound confidence. If you have the money, paying a professional is always the best option to make sure you look your best and don’t ruin your hair.

Rearrange Your Living Space

Even if you don’t have Ikea cash to spend, you can still make your bedroom, living room, office, etc. feel like a brand new space just by moving things around. Do you think you can focus better if your desk faces towards or away from the window? If you want some inspiration for how to optimize your space, you could look into the practice of Feng Shui.

Start a Planner

The most disorganized life on the planet can still look good in a well-organized planner! And there’s not just one way to do it: there are bullet journals, daily/weekly/monthly planners, “brain dump” planners, goal planners, and so many other varieties! It doesn’t even require using a bunch of paper – there are plenty of great digital planners out there that can help you sort your stuff while saving trrees!

Organize Your Closet & Drawers

This is a very little change that can make a big difference when you’re outfit planning (or rushing to throw something together before class or work like me). There’s a lot of different ways to organize your clothes, so you can figure out a method that works best for you! Personally, I organize all my shirts by sleeve length, and all my pants and dresses by total length. This can also work with organizing your bookshelf in a new way!

Create a Weekly/Monthly Budget

One of the best ways to feel in control of your life is to keep your financials in order. There are plenty of apps (and planners!) that can help you set and keep a budget, but a simple spreadsheet can work just as well. Keep track of what categories you spend the most money on (food, clothes, technology, etc.) and compare it to the amount of money you make in a week or month so you can see how much you are adding to your savings. Here’s a video from the Federal Trade Commission for how to manage a budget:

Feeling a bit more in control of things? Hopefully these simple activities can provide the confidence to tackle more overwhelming tasks, and as always if you are struggling to stay in control, USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation is here to help. Good luck everyone!

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5 Key Steps to Motivation

Keeping yourself motivated is one of the hardest things to do. It is so easy to become discouraged or overwhelmed. Every student has their own stories and trials, and throughout my educational career with my personal experiences, I have discovered the importance of the 5 key steps to staying motivated and encouraged.

Source: Tenor

Here they are:

  1. Set goals

It is important to not lose sight of future goals and plans. Setting goals is a great way to stay on track to our success.

  1. Discover your motives

Our paths are unique and require us to keep pushing forward, and through passion, we can do so. Once you find your passion you will find it easy to love even the hardest parts of your journey.

  1. Recognize your roadblocks

It is okay to be scared, fear failure, and procrastinate. As long as you recognize your roadblocks, changes can be made, and overcoming them will take you one step closer to success

  1. Don’t go through it alone

When we begin to struggle and lose motivation, losing connection to those around us is easy. Don’t forget you have people who care about you and will help you through it. 

*Don’t forget that if you feel alone USG offers counseling with trained professionals in the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC), don’t be afraid to work through any concerns you face!*

  1. Be nice to yourself

Don’t force yourself to do things you aren’t passionate about and don’t feel bad if you can’t find your calling. Always be nice to yourself because staying positive is fundamental for long life and moving forward!

So these are my 5 key steps to staying motivated:)

Now, I admit, even I feel unmotivated at times but, I always remember my passions and why I am working so hard. It’s okay to feel unmotivated, it’s just not okay to settle for less.

Source: Grammarly

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Shows I Will Watch on My Break

I thought this week would never come, but it’s here! I actually have a week off with no classes (yay!). We took finals over the weekend, and we get a little break this week. I am extra excited because we didn’t have a break last year. We had finals on a Sunday and then class again on the Monday.

If you don’t already know, I am in the FlexMBA program at UMD. This means that I am a working professional and that I am also a graduate student. What does this mean for me? Very little time to fit in leisurely things into my schedule. So, for this week, I am going to catch up on things I have missed out on due to lack of available time. First thing’s first, television. Here is what I am looking forward to watching:

Squid Game

Either you live under a rock or you’ve heard about or have probably watched Squid Game. The Korean drama has quickly become one of Netflix’s most streamed shows. I can’t say that I’m super excited to be watching because I heard it’s pretty violent which isn’t really my thing. But my fiancé suggested we watch so at least I’ll have him as a buffer. That and I’ll finally be able to join in on the countless conversations and memes around this new cult phenomenon.

Grey’s Anatomy

Source

Grey’s Anatomy has a very special place in my heart. The doctor-filled drama is on its 18th season. Normally I would have been counting down the days until the season premiere. But, being a grad student, I didn’t even realize that I have already missed three episodes. I am looking forward to catching up with my favorite surgeons, especially the main character, Meredith, who had a scare with Covid for most of season 17.

Ready to Love

Ready to Love is a breath of fresh air for reality TV. Think of your favorite dating shows that used to air on MTV back in the day, but with grown-ups who (seemingly) have their lives together. I love this show because it is a dating show where most of the contestants are ages 30 and up (like me). The current season was actually filmed in DC so I’m going to enjoy seeing familiar DC places in the backdrop of the scenes.

If I had more than a week’s break, I would add more shows to watch. But these three should keep me busy for this week. What shows are you currently watching?

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A Weekend in Washington DC

National Harbor, Washington DC
Image by Chelsea Little 10/17/2021

This weekend, I found myself driving down through the backroads of Maryland, passing the fields of yellowing corn and basking pumpkins, toward the capital of our country. The wind became a bit rough the closer I came to the National Harbor, but not even its harsh sting could pull away the excitement I felt blooming. You see, even though every week I currently find myself at the Universities of Shady Grove, perusing the nearby Starbucks and writing propped up on one of the local benches, I had not been inside the nearby district of Washington DC for years… even decades.

On Sunday, October 17th, I pulled myself out of the car, my bones heavy from the hour and a half drive, and looked out across the National Harbor, toward Virginia. The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge chased the skyline, and small swells of bay water skipped through the marina, racing for the slowly turning Ferris Wheel. Small billows of cloud accented the sparkling white bridge, as they seemed to bound and hunt one another in the cool autumn wind. It all gleamed in bright blues and cool whites, and reminded me of so many places I had seen so very far from home.

The last time I found myself in the United States Capital was probably in middle school. Seldom during those trips did I find myself outside of the famous museums of DC, and while a beautiful area on its own, staring out at the harbor brought me a sense of adventure unique to any previous experiences in DC I had yet known. This view was new to me, and I quickly realized just how little of DC I knew.

I remembered that I was not at the National Harbor just for the view, and began to make my way to the day’s first adventure; The Taco, Beer, & Tequila Festival held on the large field and parking strip next to the Gaylord National Resort. A long walk down by the rocky beach line brought us up to the large field where food trucks and vendor tents created rows on the asphalt that bubbled with the smell of cooking beef, smoking brisket, and fresh churros. People waved as we entered, beckoning us toward their stands for tequila samplings or free margaritas. A band worked to set up on stage, while festival goers buzzed around laughing and eating and tasting. With four taco tickets in hand, I worked my way through the booths, trying the famous food truck fares DC had to offer. Of the various stands and stalls there, by favorite was the Virginia-based mocktail company, Bar Therapy. The local company makes cocktail mixes with fresh, locally sourced produce, that tastes just as amazing with alcohol as without. I couldn’t help picking up their “Queen Bee” lavender Apple Cider mix (the fall-obsessed white girl inside me insisted), which I found to be the most refreshing and smooth apple cider I had ever had. 

A few hours later, we made our way back down the pathway by the rocky harbor beaches, back toward our car. The few hours I spent in DC had reminded me of just how much world I was missing out on, so close to home. Had my mom not purchased tickets to the festival months before, I may never have seen the harbor in my lifetime, even though it was only an hour and a half away. Had I not said yes to going, I would have never been reminded of the beauty of the local areas I had been taking for granted. It is so easy, I realized, to get stuck inside your schedule of life, following the same patterns you always follow without deviation. But doing nothing but the same, never taking the time to leave home and take the risk, leaves you with nothing to remember or to look back on. An hour and a half is a lot of time, until you get to your destination and realize that hour won’t be what you remember; this place, these experiences, the time you have out in the world will be what you bring back home. What is the point of life but to live it, I think. To see all the things you thought you never would. 

The sun had already begun its descent down the sky as I peered out the window of our car. I wasn’t done exploring just yet, and with a quick look, I could tell my group wasn’t ready to go home either. With a smile and only a few words, instead of turning for the highway, we made our way deeper into DC, ready to see more of this world we seldom get to see.

My mom piped up from the front, “have you ever seen Georgetown?” And our next destination was set.

Georgetown, Washington DC
Image by Chelsea Little 10/17/2021
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Peace and Prosperity

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Procrastination: The #1 Worst Study Habit to Get Rid of!

Procrastination was a terrible study habit that I developed. When I first started getting a lot of work in high school, I used to think that I would still have enough time to accomplish this assignment or that it wouldn’t take too long. As a result, I postponed my task until the last minute. When I first started doing this, it didn’t bother me as much, but once I got to college, it started to bother me.

It wasn’t so great being a procrastinator in college as it was in high school. The assignments are much more difficult, they take much longer to complete, and must be completed in a short amount of time! Some professors, who are strict graders and demand work to be turned in on time, aren’t as flexible as high school teachers. All of this put me under a lot of stress, and I had to pull all-nighters to study or finish my work. My work would occasionally appear rushed as well. This did not result in good grades, which made me upset. I don’t know how many times I wished that I had started working on an assignment earlier instead of making the mistake of putting it off until last minute!

I wanted to stop procrastinating so badly, but it’s too late. Procrastination is like a mental drug! Once you had gotten into it you cannot stop cold turkey. That isn’t to say I figured to overcome it! I discovered a few strategies that have proven to be helpful in helping me stop procrastinating.

Get organized

If you don’t have a specific plan or idea for completing your work, you are more likely to procrastinate. Keeping a planner is a good idea. Begin keeping track of all your assignments and their due dates. When you’re organized, you have a more orderly way to work. I find it easy that once I’ve made a list on what I need to get done I try to complete the assignments that are due sooner and don’t take much time first. Then I have more space in my brain to concentrate on the bigger work.   

Eliminate distractions

Another way to avoid procrastination eliminating distractions. You are more likely to complete your tasks if you limit the number of distractions around you. You can always turn off your phone, or go to a quiet place.

Set goals and deadlines

One of the reasons you may procrastinate is that the amount of work you may have to do appears to be overwhelming. It’s much easier to get started on a project when you set small, reachable goals rather than a big plan. It’s also critical to establish a deadline for completing a project or assignment. Attempt to complete them a day or two ahead of time. That way, if something unexpected happens, you’ll have enough time to finish them. This has been very helpful for me since I tend to get sick a lot, and that makes me fall back behind my work.

Reward yourself

All those things you wanted to do when you’re procrastinating, such as watching a T.V show, eating a snack, or hanging out with friends. You use them as rewards you’d give yourself whenever you completed an assignment. Knowing that you’ll get these finished your work will actually make you want to do your work more and even do your work better.  

It will take some time, but once you get used to it, you will learn to be more productive and will be able to stop procrastinating completely!

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How to Land a Summer Job/Internship

Looking for a job, internship, or research experience and don’t know where to start? Believe it or not, recruitment for Summer 2022 has already begun! But right now is the perfect time to start preparing to land the perfect opportunity for you. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to get the experience you need to succeed:

Step 1: Know your resources – and use them!

USG has its very own Career & Internship Services Center that offers small group career coaching as well as a variety of online resources. Your home institution’s career center will also have tons of appointment types and free resources to help you explore your options and prepare your career readiness toolbelt. These offices exist solely to help you land the job, so don’t be afraid to use their help during every step of this process!

Step 2: Polish your documents.

Your professional documents – resume, cover letter, portfolio, etc. – are your frontline allies to getting you a summer experience. These documents are your first impression, and can make or break your chances. Here are some great online resources for getting started:

How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice – from Indeed

7 Tips for Writing a Cover Letter with No Experience – from Firsthand

Step 3: Start Networking.

What does networking even mean anyway? As a college student, how are you supposed to know who to connect with, or how to do it? This is where those resources I mentioned come in handy. The USG Career & Internship Center as well as your home institution’s career centers will have many events that allow you to connect with employers. Go to these events early and often, create an amazing “Elevator Pitch“, get active on LinkedIn, and keep their contact information – that will help with the next step…

How Do I Create a Good LinkedIn Profile? – from LinkedIn Help

Source: The Balance

Step 4: Follow-up and prepare for an interview.

Once you’ve started growing your network, don’t be shy! You can call, email, or send a message on LinkedIn thanking recruiters for their time and asking about opportunities for an Informational Interview, or even a job interview. If you get an interview – congratulations! A few big tips for a job interview:

  • Do your research on the organization so you know exactly what’s important to them.
  • Bring copies of your resume so you can easily remember your skills and experiences.
  • Follow-up AGAIN after the interview thanking them and restating your interest.

If you thoroughly follow all of these steps, you should be well on your way to finding a fantastic summer experience to help you continue to succeed in the future. Good luck!

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