What is your piggy-back ride?

The room was loud, filled with the laughs and chatter of two dozen six-year-old girls. I sat amid the picture books and paper dolls, helping one of the girls with a crossword puzzle– a typical duty of mine at Girls Inc. That’s when there was a tap on my shoulder.

A teary-eyed kindergartener thrust her hand toward me, announcing with a sob that she had a paper cut. I took her little hand in mine to examine the wound. “Aw, I’m sorry,” I told her, “Do you want a Band-Aid? I am sure there are still a few with Hello Kitty on them.” The girl shook her head. “What would make it better?” I asked gently. Paper cuts are a serious business. She sniffed and replied, “How about a piggyback ride?” I partnered my crossword buddy with another volunteer, and hoisted the injured girl onto my back. After trotting for about ten feet, she announced that she felt all better.

Was a piggyback ride really all it took to soothe the cut that had brought tears to her eyes?

I don’t get paper cuts very often; I’ve been reading for quite a while, and I like to consider myself close to going pro at paper-handling. However, there are times when I acquire the teenaged version of a cut like that, usually in the form of stress from school.

So what are my piggyback rides? Are there things that can instantly pull me out of the blues?

After a little personal inventory, I realize that doing some yoga, drinking a good cup of coffee, and watching a favorite movie are things that I count on to heal my paper cuts (The Sound of Music or Sleepless in Seattle usually does the trick). It’s important to know what triggers happiness, just like it’s important to know what triggers paper cuts.


So when you feel the sting of a minor gash, what do you do to feel better? Run, read, or bake? Do you chat with friends, or  lip-sync to your favorite Hamilton song?

Just like my formerly injured friend, be able to name and ask for the happiness triggers in your life. Surround yourself with positivity, and know which positive things you can call on if ever you cut yourself on the paper in your life.



How To Stay Busy in the Summer

1466796446070Painting by Richard Karr

During the school year,  we have far too few lazy days to can catch up on sleep, finish that Jane Austen book, or spend hours watching Gilmore Girls. Now that summer is here, it’s tempting to make EVERY day a lazy day! But as nice as a little relaxation is here and there, it’s vital to stay busy and productive during the summer, not only to keep yourself from getting bored, but also to take advantage of all the time off from school, and squeeze-in some new adventures and experiences. I recently talked about some ways to make the most of the summer on WSRQ-FM.

You can listen to the segment at www.sarasotatalkradio.com.

Some of the highlights I talk about:

  1. Volunteer- The summers are a great time to get in those community service hours for school, but more than that, volunteering is an incredible experience. There are probably many opportunities in your area that will appeal to you. For some, it is helping out at the animal shelter, for others (like me), it is mentoring at organizations like Girls’ Inc. In addition to providing you with new experiences, volunteering gives you the great feeling of satisfaction that comes with helping others.
  2. Get a job– Summertime is also a great chance to earn some extra cash and start saving for college. Not only does a job earn you some money, but it also gives you work experience, which looks great on transcripts!
  3. Find a new hobby– Whether it’s photography, jogging, or blogging, trying out a new pastime will give you the benefits of exposing yourself to new things, and help you discover a new passion.
  4. Take a class– We don’t often get to choose our classes in school, and sometimes that may leave us feeling that learning is not fun as much as it is an ordeal. Taking a summer class in a subject that really inspires you, be it painting or history, is a great way to spend the vacation.
  5. See your friends– While this may seem obvious, it is easy to get busy with summer activities or fall into a pattern of just lying around the house alone. To keep yourself from getting lonely, make sure you schedule some time with friends. Go have lunch, or include them in your summer activities. Take a photography class together, or volunteer at the same organization. It will make whatever you choose to do this summer infinitely more fun!

So what are you doing this summer? Feel free to share!

Following the Leader


This summer, I am volunteering at Girls Inc, a national nonprofit organization inspiring girls to be “strong, smart and bold,” with innovative programs to guide them. Girls choose jobs and clubs within Girls Inc. that appeal to them, and they have scheduled activities like reading and learning about local wildlife. Girls Inc. provides these programs for kindergarten through eighth grade, and this summer I am helping with the kindergartners. My duties include reading with them, making sure they go where they are supposed to, and helping to serve lunch.

Spending time with the girls is very rewarding!  They are fun and they’re eager to learn. I’m learning, too. A recent experience made me think about being a role model and a leader: The girls were a little rowdy, and would not go anywhere in a cohesive group. To quiet everyone down, I called to them, “I am your mama duck! And you are my ducklings! So, when I say, ‘Hello, ducklings!’ you will say, ‘Hello mama duck!'” The girls thought it was the most fun they could be having at that moment, so when I told them to line up like little ducks, they happily got to it. One of the girls started waddling to display her duckling prowess, and immediately all the others began to walk as well, loving that idea. Leadership experience–check!

But this also made me think about the way we are so quick to follow the leader when we are young. Does it make us more prone to follow others when we’re older? How hard is it to break out of the mold, and become a leader instead of a follower?  We can’t just do what others do; we have to grow out of that, we have to follow our own hearts, establish our own trends, and be our own selves.

I cannot wait for more moments like this at my time at Girls Inc.!

What are some ways that you can be a role model? Are you following others, or are you a leader?

GPA Stress

The prospect of having less than a 4.0 GPA is anxiety-inducing for high-school students everywhere, and I am no exception. Anything below an A seems to ruin all chance of scholarships and Ivy League acceptances in the future. However, it is important to realize one or two or three Bs in high school is not the end.

I can think of big reasons for this:

  • For our own sanity, we must understand that getting Bs is not failing; and as long as you worked hard for it, you should be proud of whatever grade you receive.
  • While grades and scores are still key factors on a college application, the 4.0-or-bust mentality that festers among high-school students today is unhealthy and unnecessary. I recently got in touch with Jessica Hunt, the Assistant Director of Honors and Scholarships at the University of Georgia. She told me in an email that “many factors contribute to the application – test scores, essays, letters of recommendation, leadership/service/extra-curriculars, etc. – and a B or two in a subject that is not in your main area of academic interest is not going to tank your chances at all.”

It’s summer now, so we have a few months of relaxation. When school starts again in the fall, however, make sure you remember that a few Bs or even Cs in high school will not keep you from pursuing higher education.