New Year, New You?

New Year, New You?

Here are a few ideas of what you can include on your New Year's resolution list.

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3, 2, 1... Happy New Years!

Volunteer more

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Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house and help those in your community. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, a daycare, make dinner for families, etc.

Save money

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Saving money for yourself can be a great way to ensure you are spending your money wisely!

Be more positive

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Positivity is key! You can make someone's day by spreading some positivity their way.

Start a devotional

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Starting a devotional is a great way to help clear your mind and get yourself ready for the day. One of my favorite devotionals is "100 Days to Brave" by Annie F. Downs.

Help out around the house

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Help your parents, or roommates, out by doing the chores around the house. Even doing little things will help your family out more than you know.

Make new friends

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No better way to start off the new year than expanding your friend group!

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I Have Grown Up With Two Brothers Even Though I Am Technically An Only Child

It's easy to feel lonely if you're an only child, but I have honestly never really felt that way because of two specific boys in my life.

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"Is that your sister?" "Are those your brothers?"

These are the most common questions the three of us get, whether we're together or people see us in an Instagram post or Snapchat story video. Rahul and I are the same age, while Rohan is four years younger. They have both been in my life since the very beginning. Rahul was at my first birthday party, and I remember holding Rohan's tiny hand when he was just a few months old. Not only that but for the last six years their family has lived down the street from mine. . .

The three of us have done so much together. When we were really young, we created a basketball game involving a trashcan, spied on our parents for no good reason, and spent hours screaming at each other over MarioKart or Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games. Snow days were always my favorite because it meant we could have intense snowball fights, drink hot chocolate, and just lose track of time with each other when we probably should've been doing homework. During the summer we always get into heated basketball games at the pool, usually disturbing whatever lifeguard is on duty.

We've also been on so many trips and adventures, from Great Wolfe Lodge to Disney World, Universal Studios, Hilton Head, Wet n Wild, various weddings, and most recently - seeing Trevor Noah live. Road trips were always the most fun, though (and continue to be). We watched movies in the back of the car, yelled at each other for no reason, and played random games to keep us busy.

When Rahul and I were finally able to drive in high school, the three of us would have lunch together practically every weekend. I'm pretty sure I've eaten at Panda Express, Cookout, Taco Bell, and Wendy's enough times to have a lifetime's worth of free meals.

Rahul and I had a joint graduation party. Rohan made the most incredible speech. I remember feeling scared because the thought of going college made me think that things would change. While that's completely normal and understandable, I am happy to report that basically, nothing has changed. The only difference now is that we're older, play NBA 2K instead of Wii games, have more mature conversations, and Rohan is significantly taller than me.

I could sit here and write thousands upon thousands of words detailing every single inside joke, movies we've watched, funny moments with our parents, belting out our favorite songs in the car, the best roasts, etc., etc. But I don't have to. Over the years I've really grown to appreciate their company, and I do not take any of it for granted. I don't refer to either of them as friends. That word isn't appropriate and does not feel right. Rahul and Rohan are my brothers, my family, and that's all they ever will be to me. I have watched both of them grow into such charismatic, funny, smart, and respectable young men. We have a mutual, almost unspoken understanding that we will always be there for each other no matter what.

They make me laugh until I cry, and I genuinely cannot wait for everything to be the exact same when we're old and have kids to embarrass.

Thank you for all that you do, Rahul and Rohan. You truly are the best brothers I could ever ask for, and I will always be so grateful that the two of you were placed into my life.

Love Your Favorite Sister,

Jaya

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Everything You Need To Know About The Government Shutdown

The longest government shutdown in history will impact every American.

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In the early morning hours of December 22, the longest government shutdown in United States history began. At this writing, the government has been shut down for 24 days -- and counting.

The current shutdown revolves around President Trump's request for over five billion dollars to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which he sees as a necessary response to the "massive Humanitarian Crisis" taking place at the southern border -- the flow of migrants from Central America. Democrats in Congress, who fervently deny the severity of the situation, refuse to allocate funds towards a wall, instead looking to negotiate other measures for border security. Unable to pass bipartisan spending legislation, the government remains closed.But what exactly is a shutdown, and what does it mean for ordinary Americans?

A government shutdown occurs when the annual appropriations bills that fund several government agencies and programs fail to reach passage by both Congress and the president. Congress is in charge of creating these bills, and each year the president must sign them into law in order to fund the government for a new fiscal period. In October, at the beginning of the current fiscal year, only a few of the necessary appropriations bills were enacted, and Congress had until December 21 to enact the rest. However, due to congressional infighting and the President's incessant demands for a wall, the government failed to reach a spending agreement by the deadline, and a shutdown ensued.

Without appropriated funds, any departments or agencies deemed "non-essential" are put on hold under a government shutdown. This means that many federal workers, including those within the Food and Drug Administration and National Park Service, are furloughed, or put on temporary leave without pay. The remaining employees, who work in departments or agencies considered "essential," are forced to work without pay until appropriations are made by Congress and the President. Once the government is open again, they will receive their missed checks in back pay.

Put simply, the 800,000 Americans who work for departments affected by the shutdown have been without a paycheck for almost an entire month now. In past weeks, several of these workers have taken to Washington to protest the shutdown and have appeared on television to voice their frustrations. Forced to deplete their savings to make ends meet, they worry about how they'll make their next mortgage payment and keep their families fed. Paying for daycare services for infants, or college tuition for young adults, has become almost impossible for some.

And government employees aren't the only Americans affected by the shutdown. Though social security checks are sent out and Medicare is paid for, the issuance of insurance cards could cease, meaning that those newly eligible for Medicare could be turned away. Hundreds of sites with hazardous waste or polluted drinking water will go uninspected by the EPA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, responsible for feeding thousands of impoverished families, cannot last another two months without funding.

Perhaps the scariest effect of the shutdown is its impact on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for screening passengers at airports. Since the shutdown began, airports across the country have dealt with a shortage of staff, causing long lines and massive travel delays. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas and Miami International Airport in Florida have both been forced to close entire terminals in response to a staffing shortage. On January 14, TSA spokesman Michael Biello tweeted that TSA "experienced a national rate of 7.6 percent unscheduled absences compared to a 3.2 percent rate one year ago, Monday, January 15, 2018." Although the agency claims that security has not been compromised during the shutdown, the lack of workers leaves many travellers skeptical.

As President Trump continues to exploit the "crisis" at the border (see the televised address) and top Democrats defend the merits of legal immigration, it is unclear just how long the shutdown will continue. In the House, Democrats have passed spending bills supporting the immediate re-opening of affected federal departments, but such bills have not yet been brought to the Republican-controlled Senate. There have been no meetings scheduled between the White House and congressional staff, and Trump has abandoned his idea of declaring a national emergency. It seems the only thing left to do is wait.

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