Life is hard. We wake up, go to school or work, come home and take care of chores and all that, do so homework, squeeze in some down time, check social media, and somehow manage to get some sleep in the short 24 hours we're given each day. It can get overwhelming. And different people handle their stress differently. Some people exercise to release their endorphins. Some people paint to try and bring their feelings to life. Some people make music to ponder their emotions upon. Some people- and I fall victim to this occasionally- swipe their stress away at the mall or at Target. Sadly, some people use drugs or alcohol to numb whatever it is they are feeling. But for me (and this is a recent and surprising development), writing has become my outlet. To be able to put a pen to paper- or fingers to a keyboard- and get my thoughts and emotions out feels so refreshing. You see, sometimes in life, we get so caught up in ourselves and the world around us that we forget to breath and stop to soak everything in. We forget what it's like to spend time with our family or friends without being attached to our cell phones. We forget what it's like to feel the sun on our face because we would rather be indoors. We forget what it's like to smile and laugh because the world and the people in it can be so dark and cruel. We forget what it's like to love because we've been broken before and are scared to put ourselves back out there. For me, writing has been like remembering how to do all that. Sometimes, I find myself depressed and alone with my thoughts, and for a while, I didn't know a way to overcome the way I was feeling. When I expressed my troubles to a friend, she simply told me to find a outlet; find something that makes me happy and cling to it. And let me tell you, that was hard; I felt at a point in my life where not much could make me happy. But then, I picked up a pen and found a spare notebook and I remembered. I remembered how it felt to be with my friends and family and converse and spend quality time together. I relished the feeling of the sun warm against my skin. I smiled and I laughed, and both felt real and natural and freeing. And I loved. I loved myself for the first time in a long time, and learned that some things aren't worth loving and some things aren't worth losing love for. I opened my notebook and wrote and all of a sudden, I could breath again; it felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest and the world no longer rested on my shoulders. You see, life is hard- I won't sugar coat that. But it's also beautiful and exhilarating and crazy and wonderful and- most importantly- worth living. So find an outlet. Find something that makes you smile again. Find that sunshine breaking through the clouds and bask in it. Hang on to that last shred of hope and let yourself breathe lighter again.
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This feeling hurts. I must declare
That love is odd, and we don’t know.
I want freedom, but it is rare.
The only way: just stop. Follow.
You’ll never see if you don’t show
The feelings hidden in your bare
And exposed heart. The pain will grow.
This feeling hurts. I must declare.
I’m filled with fear that she will stare
at me and say, “Not you.” Although
I’m paralyzed, I will declare
That love is odd, and we don’t know.
The trap of fear will stop and throw
Your life into a solar flare.
You may burn bright, but life will slow.
I want freedom, but it is rare.
Despite the fear, I want to dare
To say what’s on my mind, to go
and say what I still want to share.
The only way: just stop. Follow.
This feeling hurts.
After all, isn't it the season of drinking...?
Thanksgiving has officially ended which means we are in preparation for the final holidays of the year. December is a busy month, filled with shopping and sales, wrapping gifts, planning family gathering and parties, cooking and baking, holiday movies, and of course, lots of drinking. I know that I will be spending a lot of December watching the ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas,
Angry Elf Cocktail
The "Angry Elf Cocktail" is the perfect addition
The Grinch Hopper
"He's a mean one, Mr. Grinch" is definitely referring to this vibrant green
Jack Frost Cocktail
Rudolph Hot Toddy
Peppermint Patty Christmas Cocktail
White Christmas Margaritas
Red Ryder Cocktail
Melting Snowman Cocktail
Don't just plan another plain party but get creative to have everyone wanting to come back next year!
You know it's Christmas when the radio stations change to all of your favorite holiday tunes, the air is still, and stores have the best sales. With all my favorite things from Christmas happening my least favorite probably has to be when I have to go to another same old boring Christmas party that I get invited to every year. Here are some Christmas party ideas so that you won't have another sad Christmas party.
Technically Christmas is a theme itself but you can make it more exciting and create a theme that goes alone with the holiday. Base the party after a movie like “Elf” or “The Grinch” and have the décor represent those movies. If you want to go old school do an Ugly Sweater party and you can have a competition and the ugliest sweater winner gets to wear a sash around all night.
Food and Drinks:
Have the best of the best out for everyone to enjoy, food really is always the best part of most things in life. Create exciting deserts like cake pops, chocolate dipped fruit and have everyone chip in for making main dishes. There are so many fun flavors that we only see in the winter like peppermint mocha. You can have a hot cocoa bar and coffee bar to keep the energy going.
Create a really upbeat and festive playlist for your party. Put on classics on there but also some songs that everyone can dance to. Also, have some type of activity that everyone can be a part of like cookie decorating or ornament making. If you are planning on a low key night Christmas movies are always a great options.
Again there are so many awesome classic games that you can play with your friends. One new game that I want to encourage everyone to play this year and the next year is the “Seran Wrap Ball Game”. This game is so much and interesting, all you need is a bunch of random items like candy, pens, CDs, socks and anything you can think of. You wrap all the items into one huge ball made out of seran wrap and have your friends sit in a circle. Then, give the ball to one person and have the person next to them roll some dices until they get to the number 7. While one person is trying to get the lucky number the other person with the ball is unwrapping it individually and winning prizes as they fall out. This is just so much fun because everyone wins for the most part and its not that pricy.
These are just some easy creative ideas that can make your next Christmas party really fun and get everyone excited for next years.
For Young Players Who Want to Succeed at The Next Level
Whose choice is it? The parent? The player? There are a number of reasons that a kid may sit out of high school soccer, and to be completely honest; It is a huge mistake. High school soccer is the final piece in the puzzle that takes a player from above average or elite, to college ready by the end of their senior year. Every year thousands of talented athletes don't play for their high schools. Why though?
The biggest culprit is the United States Development Academy. The academy programs are teams that are believed to be the elite of the elite, exclusively for the nations top players. Sounds pretty enticing if you're a high level player, huh? Well let's look a little closer.
Before advancing any further, in no way is this an attack on the USDA because for some players, the academy system will suit them better than any other system. This is to inform and to aid those who may be at the crossroads of: Academy? or High school?
To get a better understanding of what exactly the DA includes are three high school age groups in which clubs compete. Within those three age groups are a total of 73 clubs across the U.S. and a few in Canada. Of those 73, only 21 clubs are affiliated with a Major League Soccer club. If the DA is all about producing elite players, then why are there so many clubs with no "professional" affiliation? Aside from playing against quality opposition, what are the "other clubs" who aren't affiliated with MLS squads getting out of playing in the DA? Playing at one of the academies affiliated with a a pro club makes sense if it is something that you want to do for a living, but to lose your chance to play with your school mates just so you can play for one of the "other" academies doesn't make the most sense. What happens after you graduate from one of the non-affiliate academies? Sure, college is probably an enticing option, but the kids you've been playing against for the past for years on the affiliate academies are probably signing deals with their respective clubs.
The next issue lies in the restrictions put on players after signing for an academy. Players are pretty limited in terms of what they can and can't do physically outside of academy practice. The Development Academy believes that fewer, more meaningful games and no outside activity/competition is the best way to develop the next generation of U.S. soccer. Hmmmmmm.
I get that you don't want to overwork players or exhaust them, or burn them out and possibly even push a kid to the point that he or she is no longer interested, but after life in the academy, you move on to college. The college game is much different from any academy game or schedule. Unlike the academy system that protects players from not having to play too many matches, the NCAA does not care how many games you play in any period, as long as you play all of your scheduled games. Right off the bat, you will have played more games in your freshman year of college in a 2 month span than you had played in 6 months at the academy. High school soccer on the other hand takes after the college model of grueling weeks that can see a team play as many as three games in seven days. Sounds like another benefit of playing high school ball.
The other strange idea the DA has of "no outside activity/competition" is unbelievable as it is forcing ATHLETES to choose one or the other, and guess what... Soccer has one of the lowest number of athletic scholarships at the D2 and D1 level so more times than not, parents are pushing their kids down a different path when they have to pick on or the other. Decisions like that are decisions that could change the course of a players entire future, which is why high school soccer could be one of, if not the most important component of polishing off and preparing a soon to be college soccer player.
High school soccer is a completely different sport than club soccer, recreational soccer, and academy soccer. I'm not even sure if it should be called soccer, but that's exactly why it is so important.
For starters, high school soccer is the last time you will be playing soccer with limited to no expectations. Unless you're attending a private school thats recruiting top level players each year, or you attend one of the few perennial national powerhouses then you usually play at your local high school where you grew up. High school soccer fields are where some kids dream of being from the day they first see one, and that is fine because they know thats where the end of the road is, but for the few who will play after high school, it is merely a stepping stone, but a necessary one.
This may be news to you, it may be known to you, but playing in a club soccer game or an academy soccer game is completely different from a classic high school game. High school games have the element of real rivalry, real recognition, real emotion, and the chance to write your name in your own schools history books. These are all things that could help not only the kids who will stop playing after the last game of their senior year, but also the kids who will go on to play in the NCAA.
There is another glaring difference between the high school game and the club/academy game which is the style of play. The style of play in most clubs and academies is "possession, possession, possession, low-risk, pass the ball, keep the ball, don't make a mistake" thats fine in club soccer and in DA games but I promise it won't work in most high school soccer leagues. Why though?
High school soccer is PHYSICAL. High school soccer has this crazy ability to match a pre-pubescent, 115lb, freshman, against a 6'2", 200lb defender. This forces a player to think one of two ways. 1.) Wow, I can't wait to hit puberty. OR 2.) Okay, its time to get creative. By forcing young players to embrace their creativity at a young age, by the time they are seniors, they will have had the experience and knowledge to get themselves out of unfamiliar situations which is something that the college game will throw in their face on day 1 of pre-season.
The college game looks more like the high school game more times than not, so use high school soccer as a transition game, a way to familiarize yourself with a more physical match where athleticism is sometimes more important than skill, and passes are launched from your defensive third up into the attacking third. Use high school soccer as a tool to help you be better at the next level, there's no such thing as too much experience.
In no way am I trying to discourage anyone from playing for one of the USDA teams, but I don't think that spending all 4 of your high school years in the DA is a great idea for a majority of players. High school soccer is important. School pride is important. The everlasting memories with your friends are important. As cliche as it may sound, I played in some of the most memorable games in my life during my high school career. So before you think that the academy is where you want to play or where you think your kid should play. Think about their future.
Today in the U.S. there are more than 6,000 U.S. soccer clubs ranging from recreation level to elite travel teams that put just as many kids in college and in some cases more than most of the academies.
High school soccer is a brilliant resource, now go ahead and use it as your final preparation before you take it to the next level.
December is around the corner, are you ready?
As they tend to say, its the most wonderful time of the year! People have begun to compile their Christmas to-do lists in anticipation for the season of sugarplums and gingerbread.
The history of the Christmas to-do lists goes back hundreds of years, almost as old as the holiday itself, however, people tend to fall out of this habit as they get older. This is unfortunate, as the theme of Christmas tradition can add bundles of the spirit of joy to your families.
Below are some of the most things someone should have on their Christmas to-do lists!
1. Make Christmas cookies.
Gingerbread, gingersnap, sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, it doesn't matter! Baking some sort of Christmas dessert cookies should definitely be on your lists.
2. Burn Christmas candles.
Walking into a dimly lit room, fire place on, and a holiday scent in the air is one of the best feelings in the world. Yankee Candle Company, Kringle Candle Company, Home Goods, and Bath & Body Works all have a wide variety of candles spanning over many seasonal settings.
3. Ice skating.
This is one thing I have yet to do, but it is one of the first items on my to-do list. For many people they may think, "There are no ice rinks around me, I live in (insert hot Southern State)." But fear not! You may be surprised by a simple Google search to see an ice rink relatively close to you.
4. See snow! (if possible)Giphy
You may have to drive a little bit, but it's worth it! Being able to see the snow in all of it's glory can make your winter experience ten-times as fun! Be sure to wear proper footwear though - cold, wet feet are no fun.
5. Decorate a Christmas tree.
One of my best memories around Christmas time is being able to decorate the tree with my parents and brothers. There is just something so nice about being able to create something together and as festive as the Christmas tree to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
It is important to remember that Christmas is also about giving, not just receiving. Taking time to give back to your community can really make you appreciate your own blessings in life. Not only that, serving the disadvantaged and bringing some joy into their lives is just another way to spread the Christmas spirit.
7. Go to a novelty shop.
Novelty shops are great because unlike other stores, these are just for fun! It is unwinding to go shopping to look at fun little crafts and toys. Who know's maybe you'll find the perfect Christmas gift for someone there?
8. Attend a Christmas parade/festival.
You will have the most fun at a Christmas parade, I promise you. Going with friends and family is a sure way to hype you all up for the coming holiday season! Get some Christmas sweaters, ugly hats, and just roll with it!
This truly is one of the best times of the year, and it is up to us to make the most of it. Although all of these listed activities are sure ways to make your holidays bright, there is always something more important: Spending time with your family and loved ones. Yes, the holidays are about the Christmas spirit, the caroling, the sleigh rides, and the fruitcake. But more importantly, they are about the time of year when we can all come together, love one another, and get ready for the New Year. Remember this and have a great holiday season!
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign