The Weekend Five: People We Follow On Instagram

This is totally me. No shame.

This is totally me. No shame.

You know what they say… you are what you Instagram. Okay, so perhaps this isn’t the exact wording of the old adage, but our social media outlets certainly give friends and followers some insight into who we are and where our interests lie. My news feed on Facebook remains similar now to what it looked like two years ago when I wrote this post, but as I’ve migrated over to Instagram, I’ve found some common patterns there as well.

I’d imagine that for many of us, if we were to compare news feeds on Instagram, we would find that many of our friends post variations of the same things. This week, let’s take a look at some of the common themes that make their way onto our Instagram feeds.

The Weekend Five: People We Follow On Instagram

foodie-joke1. The Foodie.
The foodie comes in all shapes, sizes and culinary preferences. Whether your friend is a Cake Boss or a Super Strict #Paleo Health Nut, this person is constantly posting pictures of his or her meals. Whenever I open this app on my phone, I am immediately hungry from all of the beautifully staged food photos I see. (Seriously – how do you guys get your food to look so immaculate?) I am definitely guilty of posting more food pictures than any reasonable person should — to the point where many of my friends probably now hate me — but I don’t know if I’ll ever have the patience or skills required to make my food look Martha Stewart-ready.

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what-if-cats-have-their-own-internet-and-its-full-of-pictures-of-us2. The Technologically Savvy Animal.
Thanks to these people, cats have been ruling the Internet for the past several years. The Animal Lover posts tons of adorable pictures of his or her pet (usually a cat or dog), gathering so many other Animal Lover followers that their pets now have their own hashtags and companies invite them to do product giveaways on their social media. Personally, I follow more German Shepherds, Chihuahuas and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on Instagram than is socially acceptable. My dog, Charlie, has his own Instagram page run by my sister — and he has more followers than I do! When you’re feeling sad or upset, these Instagram pages are a great place to turn. A few cute pet pics will brighten almost any day!

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bear_fitness-php13. The #TurntUp One.
I still barely understand what it means to turn up or turn down, but I’ll be damned if I don’t see at least one person on my Instagram each week with that very hashtag. While many of these posts used to be party- and bar-related, the #turntup factor has since been amplified by the EDM/house music scene. We all have at least one of these friends. I don’t know if I’ll ever be cool enough to post any of these pictures without some degree of irony, but the good news is that I’ll still be functional enough to “turn up” to work the next day. 🙂

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20120828-1128084. The Whimsical One.
This person uses very few hashtags, writes quirky-cute captions, and manages to get at least 50 likes per photo. Whether she’s strategically photographed dancing in some meadow, taking a selfie with a cat in a bow-tie, or doing something creative with a Mason jar, her pictures always come out flawlessly and are insanely popular on social media. As you plot your own social media domination, you can’t help but envy her for her seemingly effortless photos and style.

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sophisticated_owl_by_adlovett-d6nu84t5. The Cosmopolitan.
Like The Whimsical One, The Cosmopolitan usually receives a lot of likes/follows without having to spam everyone with hashtags. The Cosmopolitan is a little better than you in every way, posting meals that you can’t pronounce from trendy restaurants you can’t afford (usually involving some sort of “balsamic reduction” or something truffle-related), visits to museums/the theatre, cool photos taken on European travels and an occasional, well-polished outfit of the day. The Cosmopolitan is not always as worldly as The Whimsical One, but typically more reliable.

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Who do you follow on Instagram? Anybody who didn’t make the cut? Share your favorites in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Literary Characters I Wouldn’t Invite To Dinner

Last week, we talked about the merits of a fancy dinner party with some of the wiser, more sophisticated, and semi-revolutionary literary characters of all time. From that blog post, I concluded that a dinner party with those characters would be an inspiring, lively experience, one that I could walk away from feeling a bit classier and a bit more enlightened.

Of course, this isn’t to say that an encounter with just any literary character would make me feel that way. In fact, some characters at a dinner party would make me feel completely uncomfortable and creeped out. Therefore, this week, we will discuss some of the literary characters not to invite to dinner. Enjoy! (Feel free to add your own to the comments section below.)

The Weekend Five: Literary Characters I Wouldn’t Invite To Dinner

1. Humbert Humbert (Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov)
Possibly known as literature’s most famous pedophile, Humbert Humbert would by far be one of the scariest people to sit at the same table with. Humbert, who married his landlady in order to get closer to her young daughter, speaks eloquently but has a few too many screws loose. I wouldn’t dignify his actions by asking him to dinner, especially if there was any chance of a pre-adolescent guest in attendance.

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2. Lady Macbeth (Macbeth by William Shakespeare)
Although there are usually no political positions associated with a dinner party, I would be terrified that Lady Macbeth may order the strategic assassination of a dinner guest or two in order to gain power. Maybe she would target the nobility in attendance, or perhaps she would find me a threat as dinner party hostess. Either way, I would sit at the table in constant fear that she somehow poisoned my drink or that of one of my guests.

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3. Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte)
Okay, so maybe Heathcliff would have a right to be brooding at the table with those sideburns of his — he did lose the love of his life in one of the most tortured love story soap operas of his time. But one more look at the gypsy-turned-gentleman and his history would suggest that he would not be an appropriate dinner guest. He was cruel to everyone in his life, manipulative, and obsessed with a love that just never worked out. Besides, does anyone want to invite a downer to this kind of dinner? (Author’s Note: On second thought, nobody from this book would be invited.)

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4. Miss Havisham (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)
Much like Heathcliff, Miss Havisham is obsessed with a relationship that never worked out, and it turns her into a bitter old woman. (Perhaps she and Heathcliff would have worked out well together!) Ditched on her wedding day, Miss Havisham stopped all the clocks in her home and kept the place frozen in time for the rest of her life. She then does the next most reasonable thing: she adopts a daughter and raises her to be cruel to men. I fear that Miss Havisham would insult my dinner guests in the name of her  lost love. And if I really wanted to dwell on “the one that got away,” I could just listen to a mediocre Katy Perry song, now couldn’t I?

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5. Bella Swan (Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer)
Admittedly, some of this may have to do with the fact that I’m not a fan of Bella’s actress counterpart, Kristen Stewart (although I can do a pretty good impression of her). Having said that, I don’t like to spend time with whiny teenagers as it is, so a dinner with Bella would be far from enjoyable for me. To converse with a girl who thinks she is better than everyone else and cares only about her sparkly boyfriend would feel a lot like stepping in a time machine and going back to high school. (No thank you!) The only vampire I really want to talk about is Nosferatu, not Edward Cullen, and the only werewolf that matters to me is Remus Lupin. Dinner with Bella would be dull for those who attend, but ironically enough, she would probably assume that her presence was the only thing that made it interesting.

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Isn’t it funny that so many of these characters can’t seem to stand alone, but instead allow their significant others and relationships to consume their lives? 🙂

Readers, which characters would you not want to eat dinner with?

The Friday Five: Signs That You’re A Communications Major

As someone who identifies so closely with her major, I can often pick up on some of the differences between myself and my business/pre-med/engineering friends. For those of you who didn’t know, I’m currently a junior majoring in Advertising and Public Relations, which is part of my university’s Communications school. Through my experiences in its academic organizations, classes and internships (along with my interactions with other Communications majors!), I have noticed key similarities among our little group.

If you are majoring in Advertising, Public Relations, Journalism or any other form of Communications — or if you have a close friend in one of these majors or professions — follow along and see which of the following signs are applicable!

The Friday Five: Signs That You’re A Communications Major

1. You find yourself mentally correcting people when they say things that don’t comply with AP Style.

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2. You live-tweet about the commercials during the Super Bowl instead of actually watching the game.

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3. “Diversifying your portfolio” has nothing to do with personal finances, and everything to do with clipping unique samples of your work to show potential employers.

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4. You study the menus at your favorite chain restaurants — not because you’re interested in the food, but because you want to see how those restaurants implement their brand standards throughout their food and beverage menus.

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5. Because you are relatively active on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you consider yourself the ultimate social media guru.

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Readers, what are some signs indicative of your major? 

The Weekend Five: Stuff Girls Do

With the influx of Youtube videos inspired by the original “Sh!t Girls Say,” I thought I would tackle a similar topic — the many strange things that girls often do. I’ll admit that I seem to be friends with more guys than girls, but I have definitely witnessed each of these (albeit stereotypical) actions in Girl World and love to poke fun at each of them. Ladies, this week, let’s laugh at ourselves! (Add your own in the comments.)

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The Weekend Five: Stuff Girls Do

1. Plan their weddings and dream homes on Pinterest.
Yes, the invitation-only website is great for sharing recipes, do-it-yourself projects and more, but in Girl World, Pinterest is all about getting ready for the future. If you are between the ages of 18 and 25 and haven’t already selected a wedding dress or decorated your first child’s bedroom (using mainly pieces from the websites for Pottery Barn and Anthropologie) for your Pinterest boards, then what have you been doing with your life? You may still live in a dorm room or off-campus apartment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start decorating your eventual mansion. Who cares if you’re an Engineering major? For all intents and purposes, you are currently an interior decorator/event planner extraordinaire.

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2. Invite each other to partake in “play time.”
For the record, I have never understood this one. However, in many cases, when one girl wants to meet up with a female friend she hasn’t seen in a while, she will request “play time.” Curiously, although the term would suggest otherwise, the two girls are typically either of high school or college age. “Play time” is an ambiguous term that could refer to anything, but usually does not refer to participation in an actual game.

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3. Commonly use the word “ahmazing” to describe people, places and things.
In Girl World, everything is “ahmazing.” It doesn’t matter that the word shouldn’t actually contain an “h” — in fact, the more unnecessary letters added to a word, the better. When communicating with other girls, the usage of extra letters allows for greater emphasis. For example, “I’m bored” suggests that the writer is unamused by her current circumstances, but “I’m boreddddddd” implies an added level of frustration and disgust. Therefore, it should hold true that the extra letter in “ahmazing” adds an extra layer of awesomeness that wasn’t there when the word was just “amazing.”

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4. Discuss in great length what a guy’s text message actually meant.
Remember that time when Zach switched from his traditional “haha” to “LOL” in a text message and you spent an hour with your best friend trying to determine his reasoning behind it? No? Then it’s high time you start analyzing. Over-analysis is an Olympic event in Girl World, one in which nearly everyone is a participant. In this case, it is important to consider a guy’s actions that seem the least significant and then dissect those until you have uncovered at least five different meanings. After all, where is the fun in being straightforward with someone?

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5. Scream across the room when they spot friends they haven’t seen in a week.
Perhaps you saw Kelly two days ago, but that still shouldn’t preclude you from shrieking her name at the top of her lungs (preferably in someone’s ear) and pushing across a crowd to give her a hug and a possible air-kiss. Mere enthusiasm to see a friend isn’t enough; instead, you must treat the friend or acquaintance that you haven’t seen in “like, forever” (read: since Tuesday) like your favorite A-List celebrity, except without the nasty paparazzi.

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The Friday Five: Reasons to Enjoy a Cold Front in Florida

Baby it’s cold outside… Okay, so maybe it’s not cold by most standards, but when you live in Florida, where seasons are practically nonexistent, a cold front is a pretty big deal. As someone who has lived in Florida for most of her life, I can honestly say that I love my state and even if I’m not enamored with hurricane season or hair-frizzing humidity, I wouldn’t trade either for having to shovel snow.

Having said that, I am a huge fan of our Florida “winters” and cold fronts. We are getting into that time of the year when it’s cool enough to wear sleeves but sunny enough to be comfortable and cheerful. This week, the temperatures have begun to drop here in my beautiful city, and I couldn’t be happier. 🙂

To those Floridian readers (or others who live in traditionally “warm” states): this blog is for you. 🙂

The Friday Five: Reasons to Enjoy a Cold Front in Florida

1. It gives us an excuse to dress “winter chic.”
For most of the year, we girls tend to resign ourselves to shorts, tank tops and flip flops, with very little room for variation (a pair of jeans here, a halter top there). However, when the temperature drops into the 50s or even 60s, we can finally pull on those cute sweaters and boots that our northern friends lovably mock us for. 🙂 Our outfits may serve more for fashion than function, but they are still fun to wear and they will keep us toasty when the breeze comes by.

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2. It’s nice to be outside!
With our lower temperatures, we won’t break a sweat as we walk to our classes. We tend to feel more alert and lively, and often more willing to spend time breathing in the fresh air. Weather like this makes you want to go for that long walk you’ve been putting off, and inspires the perfect outdoor picnic. There isn’t much chance of freezing, but it’s cool enough to withstand long hours outdoors.

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3. It’s nice to be inside!
Too chilly for your taste? A cold front is the perfect chance to snuggle on your couch with a book or a movie when you just don’t want to go outside.

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4. Warm drinks.
Starbucks never tasted so good. With the nice crisp temperatures, you actually have an excuse to grab a hot chocolate or tea without completely burning up in the scorching Florida heat.

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5. The mood is much more cheerful.
Perhaps this is because the holidays are just around the corner, but the cooler temperatures seem to put us all in a better mood. 🙂 Go grab your favorite hoodie and inhale the sweet air… and then see if you can see your own breath when you exhale!

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Floridians, what is your favorite part about the cooler temperatures?

The Friday Five: Popular Book Cliches

As I work to complete my 50 Book Challenge of 2011 (in which I’m lagging a little behind, so feel free to send me book suggestions!), I often begin to group some of the books I read together. Because I’m a fellow writer, this isn’t always the nicest thing for me to do, but I can’t help but pick up on the similarities I find between genres. These similarities come up for all age groups, but many of the clichés I’ll bring up are especially prevalent in the young adult books. Some of them are common among particular authors.

This is in no way meant to be offensive. Each of these books/categories has its own place in my heart, and I appreciate all of the hard work that each author puts into writing and publishing his or her writing. Without further adieu, let’s discuss five of the common book formats and clichés that the literary world runs into.

The Friday Five: Popular Book Clichés

1. The Meg Cabot.
Meet Awkward Girl, whose photo would be displayed next to “Self-Deprecation” in the dictionary if there was such an entry. Sometimes she’s actually fairly normal and popular, while other times she’s a total clod, but regardless of how the rest of the world sees her, she generally describes herself in negative terms. She tries to avoid attention, but somehow attracts it nonetheless. Awkward Girl is your every-girl, someone you definitely went to high school with and who is surprisingly abundant in personality and wit, but who also finds herself in bizarre situations. She generally pines over someone slightly out of her reach and has some offbeat interest that sets her apart from the majority of her peers. As a reader, you have difficulty deciding how you feel about Awkward Girl and whether or not you’re rooting for her — on the one hand, you can kind of relate to her, but on the other hand, she complains way too much.

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2. The Fashionista Manual.
Usually taking place in a glamorous big city (New York or Los Angeles, for example), The Fashionista Manual contains just as much designer name-dropping as it does actual substance. The characters are usually petty, immature and vengeful, but also extremely attractive, with enough disposable income to go wherever they want, buy whatever they want and do whatever they want. The main character is usually female, with a coterie of frenemies who sort of idolize her, as well as a main rival and a dream guy. As both a book series and a TV show, Gossip Girl is notorious for this, but Zoey Dean’s The A-List series is another huge culprit, and Lise Harrison’s Clique books appeal to this market for younger audiences. If you want to look like an intellectual as you sip your coffee and read a book in Starbucks, The Fashionista Manual is not for you. Bring this book to the beach instead for some guilty pleasure reading.

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3. The Pseudo-Victorian Romance Novel.
After thoroughly researching this genre (or rather, reading the summaries of these books with my mom and laughing at the absurd plotlines), I have The Pseudo-Victorian Romance Novel down to a science. The Pseudo-Victorian Romance Novel consists of three parts: an innocent young woman who holds some sort of power over men that she might be unaware of, a devilishly handsome rogue with an impressive title and an infamous reputation, and a healthy combination of sexual tension and “unbridled passion.” To create a proper Pseudo-Victorian Romance Novel, sprinkle the following buzz words throughout your novel and summary: rake, russet curls, ravishing, wicked, irresistible, desires, scandal, etc.

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4. The Utopian/Dystopian Trilogy.
This collection of novels takes place sometime in the not-so-distant future, after America as we know it has failed and somehow our world has become something entirely different than what we live in today. Book 1: Our hero/heroine, a semi-obedient but still somewhat rebellious character, discovers some horrible government conspiracy. Book 2: The hero/heroine becomes even more exposed to this conspiracy and learns some of the darker secrets behind it, beginning to break some serious rules and become part of some greater rebellion. Book 3: The protagonist is now past the point of no return, so he or she leads some epic battle scenes and undergoes major character development. The ending is ultimately bittersweet, with the bad guys sort of getting defeated, but the general gloom of the war looming overhead for the years that follow. (Both The Hunger Games and Uglies series are excellent examples of this!) A more stretched-out version of this can occur in larger book series, or it can compress into one dystopian novel, but this is the formula for such a genre.

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5. The Sarah Dessen.
I will be the first to admit that I grew up on Sarah Dessen novels; her work was my inspiration when I was in middle school and in my early years of high school. I still admire many of her works (some more than others) and think that every girl should read This Lullaby, the one novel of hers that does not conform to the model I’m about to share with you. Although I have a soft spot for some of her books, most seem to contain the same elements: An introspective girl as the main character, one who has very little personality but is fairly neutral toward everyone and everything, is dropped in a new location where she doesn’t particularly want to be. There she makes friends with people who are generally more outspoken and interesting than she is, as well as a boy with a unique past and a fresh outlook on life, and a mother hen figure to make up for her own broken family and stilted relationships with her parents. The book as a whole is usually tied together by a different theme — restaurants, college basketball, music, jewelry-making, you name it — but the types of characters don’t vary all that much by book. Often the main character gains a greater insight through some sort of project she is reluctant to undertake, and gains a better appreciation for friends and family along the way.

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What are some of the common types of books you’ve read? Feel free to share yours in the comments!

The Friday Five: Lessons Learned at 20

Every year, our experiences shape us into the grown-up person we will someday become. Although I just began my junior year of college, I still can’t believe that society already considers me somewhat an adult. However, yesterday I turned 21, and here I am — a little older and a little wiser than I was last year.

For this week’s Friday Five, I will share just a few of the lessons I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) since my 20th birthday. Feel free to comment with some of the lessons you learned at 20. 🙂

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The Friday Five: Lessons Learned at 20

1. True friends are irreplaceable. Don’t trust in others too quickly, but be sure to give others a chance.

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2. Sometimes, what you always wanted isn’t what it was cracked up to be. Set new goals when the old ones aren’t working out.

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3. Dish soap does not go in the dishwasher, unless you want your apartment to be filled with bubbles.

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4. The people closest to you have your best interests in mind. If your friends hate your significant other and you feel the need to hide the relationship, then that raises a red flag.

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5. Being positive and upbeat generally attracts positive and upbeat opportunities and situations.

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(Author’s Note: Sorry for such a lack of writing in the past couple of weeks– my life has been busy beyond belief!)

The Friday Five: Reasons I Love My Dog

In the summer of 2001, just a few months shy of my eleventh birthday, we brought our German Shepherd puppy home from the most socially inept dog breeder on the planet. Shana, whose name means “beautiful,” was the first dog my family ever owned and the most difficult puppy imaginable. As time wore on, however, she grew into a loving, loyal, well-trained dog and one of my best friends.

Now, at ten and a half years old, she has slowed down a little because of injuries, but has remained extremely healthy for her age. I love her to pieces and can’t imagine life without her. Unfortunately, last weekend she had to have surgery, and although she was recovering well, she went back into surgery again today and is being monitored once again. Because I go to school 200 miles away from home, I don’t get to see her, and so I have to think of her from afar, rely on phone updates from my family and hope she is doing okay. In honor of my beautiful, courageous dog, I would like to dedicate this week’s post to her and some of the wonderful things I love about her. (I know I’m sounding like one of those crazy animal people, but I don’t care!)

The Friday Five: Reasons I Love My Dog

1. Her love is unconditional.
No matter how bad I feel about myself one day, no matter how my grades look or how my diet is going or how many of my goals I accomplish, I know that when I walk through the door, she will give me that same excited greeting she always does. Because she wasn’t socialized much before we got her when she was young, she has a somewhat shy disposition and doesn’t open up to most people easily, but she knows her pack and loves us all in spite of our faults. Shana picks up on our feelings, and when one of us needs her, she will keep us company and protect us.

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2. She acts as a mother to our little dog, Charlie.
Just after Shana turned nine years old, we bought a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy (aptly named Charlie) for my mom. At first, Shana wasn’t so sure about having another dog in the house, but right away he wanted to gain her attention and approval. Charlie will turn two in November, and he follows Shana wherever she goes, trying to learn the same tricks she does and sitting with her whenever she’ll have him. In that time, Shana has grown attached to Charlie, playing with him in the house, protecting him against other dogs and grooming him when she thinks it is necessary. The two have become the best of friends, and without her for the past few weeks, Charlie has been completely lost. He really does seem to think that Shana is his mother.

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3. She has above-human intelligence.
For years, I have believed that Shana is actually smarter than half of the people I know. I absolutely love that you can talk to her and she responds appropriately. If you tell her to “go find Dad,” she will specifically look for him. If the guardhouse calls to notify you that your guests are coming, and you tell them to “let them in,” she immediately barks when you hang up the phone and morphs into guard-dog mode. She mastered the traditional “tricks” early on, but understands more complex commands and English words. One time, when we were practicing Charlie’s tricks with him (some of which were tricks Shana never learned), Shana caught on quickly herself. Every day, she amazes me in what she knows and what she picks up on, even now that she is no longer a puppy.

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4. She tries to keep the peace.
If any two people in my house are arguing, Shana always tries to calm everyone down. Similarly, when the entire family goes to the pet store or an outdoor restaurant and temporarily splits up, Shana looks out for everyone to return. She constantly tries to keep the pack together.

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5. She brings joy to our family each and every day.
Have dinner with my family one night, and we will talk more about our dogs than we do about our day. Just one look into those big brown eyes and you know that she loves you with every fiber of her being. Some people don’t understand, especially those who don’t have pets, but my dogs mean more to me than any mere possession, and they are one of my favorite parts of coming home. Having dogs had a profound effect on my life and on the person I grew up to be.

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I am praying for my Shana’s healthy return home and can’t wait to hear some good news. If you could send her your positive energy over the next few days, it would mean a lot to me. Happy weekend, everyone!

The Friday Five: Tips For Planning Successful Fundraising Events

This past January, I became Director of Fundraising of my organization — with absolutely no fundraising experience. I thought it would be a lot of fun, planning events that would ultimately benefit some awesome charities, but I soon realized that there was a reason I ran uncontested. Fundraising is hard. Surrounded by monetary goals and deadlines, I felt like I was in over my head.

Whenever I scoured the Internet in search of fundraising advice, I kept coming across the same few unhelpful articles. Ultimately, I wound up following my own rules, and in one semester ended up raising more money than my predecessor did in an entire year.

This week, I would like to share some of my methods with those of you who have also gotten into a fundraising position and feel completely lost. Hopefully this will make those goals seem a little more attainable! 🙂

The Friday Five: Tips For Planning Successful Fundraising Events

1. Find out what worked in the past, and then create your own unique twist.
Talk to others who have fundraised for the same cause or who have served in your position, and find out what your organization responds to the most. For example, while bake sales aren’t the most exciting events imaginable, I can look through past records and see that my organization has always made more than $100 through baked goods. Then, I can decide to give my bake sale a fun theme, and brand my event that way. Figure out which events have made the most cash in the past, and then give them an original flair.

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2. Start early.
This is especially important if your event requires a lot of participation. Last year, I hosted a very successful Open Mic Night, but I really had to search to find people who were willing to perform in public. I also had to book the venue months in advance, keep in constant communication with performers, delegate tasks to my committee members, write a script and provide materials for my tech boys. I could not have done all of this the night before, nor could I have done it the week before. Depending on how large your event is, you will want to map out a rough calendar of when certain things need to be finished. It will save you a lot of hassle later on!

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3. Be organized and keep track of what you do.
In our organization, we keep binders with information about each of our events, so that those who fill our positions in the years to come will have records of what we did and knowledge of how to execute certain types of events. Some of my predecessors did not provide much information for me, so I either had to ask a lot of questions of former officers or I had to figure out my own way of doing things. I kept every detail of every event I ever ran in that binder, so that I could easily look at it for references, but also so that the successful events could be repeated (and the unsuccessful events could be salvaged!). Also, being organized will help you when your event is looming closer, because it will keep your event from becoming too overwhelming and it will make it easier for others to help you.

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4. Use your creativity.
Tradition is great to follow (see #1), but if you want to create your own legacy, you have to give yourself a challenge. Think of something fun and exciting, something that will gain participant interest without costing a lot of money. Be creative in the ways you market your event as well. My campus puts on a drag show/fundraiser every year, and to advertise the event, they send students dressed in drag to hand out the fliers. It is a creative marketing strategy that definitely gets attention, and the actual event always has a huge turnout. I’m not saying you need to dress in drag to get your message across, but put some time and effort into the way you showcase your event AND the way you actually execute it.

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5. Realize that things probably won’t go perfectly.
The first event I ever ran was a scavenger hunt called Hunt for the Horcruxes (yes, I’m obsessed), and prior to the event, I followed all of the above steps to make it an enjoyable experience for the teams involved. Of course, on the night of the event, two of the teams dropped out because of illness, the Google Voice system I used to send clues to each team decided to malfunction, one team completely disappeared halfway through the race, and the computer in my office decided it didn’t want to open any of the documents with my clues and pathways on them. I was practically in tears. In the end, the event still raised $80 that went toward the Children’s Miracle Network fund, and the majority of participants came and told me afterward how much fun they had at the event. When things went wrong, I had to find alternatives in order for the event to work out, but none of those alternatives were earth-shattering. With seven fundraisers under my belt, I now know what problems I have the possibility of facing at future events, and I know better ways of preparing for them.

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I hope this helps anyone who has to create fundraising events and doesn’t know what to do. Let me know if you have additional questions and I will do my best to answer!

The Friday Five: Most Annoying Voicemail Greetings

It’s one thing when you call up a friend and end up having to leave a message; it’s another thing when you have to sit through a completely obnoxious voicemail greeting first! We love our friends and family members, but sometimes when our calls to them go to voicemail, we would rather hang up and call back later than listen to the entire recording.

This week, we’ll look at five of the most annoying voicemail/answering machine greetings we encounter on a regular basis. Think about your own message systems and whether or not you’re guilty of any of these!

The Friday Five: Most Annoying Voicemail Greetings

1. The Song With Poor Sound Quality.
To achieve this, cell phone users will record a favorite song to play when a call goes to voicemail. At first, callers will wonder what aural atrocity has just destroyed their ear drums. Even if the chosen song is well liked among callers, they will be: a) unable to hear it because of white noise and other sound interference; or b) perturbed that they have to sit tight through at least part of the song in order to record their very important messages. However, chances are that most callers won’t even like your choice in country/heavy metal/rap music. Although most popular between 2005 and 2008, The Song With Poor Sound Quality still exists among cell phone users, and even serves to replace the usual ringing sound on some calls.

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2. The Cutesy Couple.
The Cutesy Couple greeting usually occurs on landlines in the homes of married or otherwise live-in couples. Because the phone line belongs to both parties, the two sometimes decide to record their welcome message together, making little jokes here and there, and usually completing each other’s sentences. Although well-intentioned and meant to humor callers, The Cutesy Couple does a better job of annoying those who call. (Can also occur in families with children, in a variation called The Flamboyant Family.)

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3. The False Greeting.
The False Greeting begins innocently enough with a “Hello?” Callers then believe that they have reached a live person, and will begin to speak. “Hello?” the greeting repeats, leading callers to think that there is something wrong with the line and that they should speak louder and more clearly. “Oh, sorry, we’re not in right now,” the message concludes, and the caller feels immediately disappointed, misled into believing that he or she had actually reached the person of interest. Although I have several friends who have used The False Greeting at one point or another, I have to call this one out — it is annoying and it usually leaves us rolling our eyes and not leaving a message.

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4. The Excessively Long Greeting.
Yes, folks, this is one that I’m guilty of. Although I shortened my voicemail greeting recently, I had a very wordy one for the longest time. Whenever my dad called, his message usually included something along the lines of, “I’ll pay you five dollars if you change your voicemail.” Let’s face it — if you haven’t reached the person you’re trying to call and you do want to leave a message, you’re probably going to do it quickly, so you won’t want to sit through five minutes of them talking about why they aren’t available. Be succinct and be done with it. 🙂

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5. The Excessively Short Greeting.
Trust me, those exist. For example, one of my friends’ voicemail greetings consists of, “Hello,” and then the tone. Even after calling him hundreds of times, I am still constantly thrown off by his voicemail and I never know when to record my message or if the phone just malfunctioned. Don’t get too verbose, but at least include the basics of a generic answering machine. No one wants to feel like they are being rushed!

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What category, if any, do you fall under? What are some of your voicemail pet peeves?