Terp Thon: Dancing for the Greater Good

Last spring, I danced, laughed, cried, took pictures, sang to 90’s music, won a raffle, met the UMD soccer team, and realized how truly blessed I am. Last spring, I participated in Terp Thon, an event hosted by the University of Maryland where students pledge to remain standing (but mostly dancing) for 12 hours straight in order to raise money to benefit Children’s National Medical Center.

Last year, I signed up for this expecting to have a fun night dancing with my friends while taking some fun and colorful pictures.

This year, I’ve registered as a fully involved member on the Events committee who is dedicated to ensuring that the children and families Children’s National helps are further sustained by our fundraising efforts.

(For a full list of how revolutionary and life changing this event was for me, check out my post from last March.)

I guess over the summer I’ve forgotten how much I love helping others, and I haven’t really volunteered my time to help those in need. But, now that I’m registered for this year’s Terp Thon, I’ve recommitted myself to service and helping children put a smile on their face.

389781_10151579696395695_2051817362_n (1)I don’t think I could ever again be involved in something quite as meaningful and revolutionary as Terp Thon, and I am absolutely thrilled to continue my fundraising efforts and shake my tail feather on that dance floor one last time during my senior year of college.

That being said, *cough* you knew this was coming *cough*, if anyone would like to donate, my new and shiny donor page (with a rather lofty donation goal) is listed HERE. All I’m asking for is a dollar or two, just enough to make you realize that you’ve contributed to drastically improving someone’s life. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday.

Last year we raised over $300,000, and I'm just asking for a donation of a dollar or two

Last year we raised over $300,000 for the most inspirational kids you’ve ever met

But even better than a donation, would be a pledge to help out someone in your local community. Donate your time and efforts to a cause that you really care about, and you’re bound to make a difference.

I know that it’s easy to say you’ll get around to it, or that it’s a nice thought and you’ll do it later, but I mean right now. I’m telling you to Google volunteer opportunities near you, and actually and immediately follow through with them. You might be surprised the impact that it has on your life.

Because I was hooked on volunteering as soon as I saw the smile on Trevor’s face.

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Bingo with the Ravens

I love football. I love bingo. But only once a year do those two loves coincide in one glorious event. Raven’s Bingo!

DSCN0922Growing up just outside of Baltimore, I have long been a supporter of the purple and gold, the strong and bold, the Baltimore Ravens. Come game day/purple Friday you’ll see me parading around in my jersey, donning my sparkly raven earrings, and professing my hatred for the Steelers.

Growing up with such avid bingo goers as my mother and grandmother, I’ve been going to bingo almost every Saturday night since I was 10 years old and my mom believed that I could stay up until 10:30 without passing out. Come bingo time you’ll see me parading around the house with my bingo marker, wearing a light jacket to keep out the chill from the firehouse, and professing my desire to take home big money.

About once a year in the summer time my Mom and I faithfully flock to this event. Purple, a women’s-Ravens-support-club-awesome-thing-group hosts the Ravens bingo at M&T Bank stadium (club level, baby!). They provide the purple, the fans provide the passion.

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It is magic. (Though not quite O’s magic)

Despite sweating ourselves silly in the line outside (one girl almost fainted so I gave her my water bottle to stay standing), once we entered the magnificently air conditioned makeshift bingo hall, any emotions other than pure joy left our minds.

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Not only did we get to enjoy LaQuan Williams (WR) and his bingo calling prowess, but we were also treated to delicious food, free bingo souvenirs, a beautiful view of the city, and the potential to win fabulous prizes such as signed footballs from the team, gorgeous canvas prints of the players, and a picture with LaQuan.

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No, my Mom and I didn’t win (though our hearts leapt when we waited occasionally). Yes, I had a fantastical night of starring at a Ravens player and marking my bingo card.

So look for me standing in line next year, I’ll be the girl decked out in purple, grinning from ear-to-ear, and sweating profusely.

A Delicious Addition to My Bucket List

recipe folderSomewhere in the shady recesses of my kitchen, sprinkled with cobwebs, browning with age but taut with neglect, all neat and pristine, without a drop of oil or a splash of vinegar, lays my recipe folder.

Just because I have failed, on many occasions, to follow through with the cooking, baking, sautéing, broiling, grilling, steaming, boiling, or mere mixing of ingredients to create such decedent delicacies, does not mean that I have given up on collecting recipes. In fact, it seems that the fewer meals I cook, the more recipes I store.

guac and chicken kabobsSo watch out Cheesy Cauliflower Rice, because I’m coming after you with all of the fury and fire of a woman who has free time on her hands. Sleep with one eye open Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kababs, because I’m locked and loaded to make you up with a knife and then take you down with a fork. Tuna Melt, don’t for a second think I’ve forgotten about you. Oh, and Greek Shrimp Bruschetta and Pizza Pasta, you better sleep with one eye open.

Because I have a new addition to my Pail List.

Official Pail List addition:

Cook all of the recipes I’ve collected.

Goals for this addition:

  • I’m going to aim for preparing one dish each week (while it’s summer time, as a college dorm is not conducive to creating culinary works of art)
  • Most of the dishes are healthy, so I’d like to document my experience with a few of them on Happiness Through Health
  • I’d like to feel more confident and comfortable, and less awkward and frightened in the kitchen
  • Get one person from my circle of support to try each week’s mystery meal
  • Continue collecting inspiring recipes and embrace any food mess battle scars they may receive

cute apron

I’m excited to see how this Pail List addition will turn out, because it will be requiring constant attention to get completed on time. For now, I’m going to get psyched for my sudden enthusiasm with cooking by perusing some cute aprons online.

An Artscape Adventure

Every year, Baltimore, MD hosts America’s largest free arts festival, Artscape. If you can brave the heat and risk the rainy weather, you’re in for a treat and a day filled with presentations so astounding and innovative that you redefine your definition of art.

Instead of trying to do justice to the visually marvelous through mere text, I’m going to share my experience through picture and video. I’m no where near being an artist, so please forgive the camera and video quality and be sure to look for the meaning behind the screening.

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When asked what can heal our community

When asked what can heal our community: ( I wrote “enthusiasm”)

I helped pain this, can you tell?

I couldn’t believe that an event so unique had been frequenting my community for the past 30 years and I had never appreciated and experienced the artistic adventure. While some of the projects or performances were a bit trippy, I loved I only wish that I could have taken pictures of all the vendors’ shops and wares. I’d seen pictures sewn with yarn, a shockingly deep portrait of a deer, book pages fashioned into a hanging decoration, perfect woodworked animals, and concrete sculptures bursting with life.

Please, make an effort to plan your visit to Artscape either this year or next to experience emotion you’d long forgotten about. But, on the chance that you can’t make it into Baltimore, check out the local arts scene around you. It may be weird, it may be uncomfortable, it may be confusing, but if it makes you truly feel something within, then the art has served its purpose.

Comments, Questions, Concerns?

I enjoy posting new additions to my blog, but one thing I adore above all else is viewing other people’s blogs.

I love the opportunity to hear what other people think about issues that I care about. I relish the opportunity to view new pictures and quotes that I never would have been exposed to otherwise. I can’t wait to scroll through the WordPress reader and see how my day will be affected by each blog that I read. And above all, I love letting others know that I appreciate the time they’ve taken to post!

wordpress like buttonThere’s (almost) nothing better than getting an email alert or seeing that little star icon to let you know that someone has liked your post. At least one person out there in the whole wide world took the time out of their day to let you know that they enjoyed something you wrote, and that’s a big freakin’ deal! And providing that same feeling of elation for someone else is just as great a feeling!

How long does it take to like a post? One second? Two seconds? Maybe even half a second! And in that second, you can completely brighten up someone’s day.

wordpress commentAnd the one thing better than a like? A comment! There’s (absolutely) nothing better than getting a request to approve a comment, or seeing that speech bubble icon let you know that someone has so thoroughly enjoyed your post, that they took a whole minute out of their hectic day to think of something unique and special to say! Even if I only put as innocent a comment as, “Wow, your cat is so cute!”, I know it’s made someone’s day, and in turn, that makes my day!

It’s truly better to give than to receive. So don’t be stingy with that “like” or “comment” button, and be sure to share the love and get some happiness coming your way!

Crochet, No Way…

As a young girl, I remember sitting on the couch next to my mom as she crocheted brightly colored afghans. I was the designated string lackey and unwound coils of yarn with faithful precision. She would churn out blankets so quickly (thanks in part to her dedicated string lackey), that our household was never in want of some warm and brightly colored covers.

4 years ago, I began my crocheting journey. I wanted so badly to string together such beautiful creations, that I ran to my nearest Joanne’s and bought all of the blue yarn I could get my hands on, I picked out the shiniest crochet hook I could find, and I examined my mom’s handiwork to get an idea of what pattern I wanted to try my hand at. I was ready. I was set. I was good to go.

4 years later, and I’m a bit more than halfway through crocheting this afghan thanks to a host of unforeseen challenges:

  • My awkward hands took so long to grow accustomed to the necessary movement of the yarn
  • As the blanket grew, it became difficult to move around and continue working
  • Afghans make you warmth, and too much warmth makes you uncomfortable and antsy
  • I never really understood how to keep the edges the same length, so it looks a bit loopy on the sides
  • I vastly underestimated how much string would be needed, and had to continue making trips and spending money for more yarn
  • I overestimated how much I enjoyed crocheting

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IMG_2234To make matters worse, my boyfriend bought me an animal crochet kit as a surprisingly thoughtful birthday gift (while I was on my initial crochet high) whose impossible instructions have only fueled my frustration with this silly art form.

Despite being hidden away in a bag for the past two years, my afghan is out and about once again, and more than ready to be finished! While I’m not too enthused to begin crocheting, I’ve received a sudden outpouring of motivation from wanting to complete just one of my many  projects, and wishing that I wouldn’t have to look at bags and bags of string whenever I pass by my living room.

Sorry, I Can’t Afford to Say Yes…

I’m a yes kind of gal. I enjoy experiencing new opportunities and always being up for anything (within the confines of the law and my morals). When a friend asks about going out to dinner, when someone texts me looking for someone to pal around with at the Orioles game, when my Mom casually suggests we see a show: yes, Yes, YES!

DSCN0474Thanks to this bold mentality I’ve been to see a deaf production of Alice in Wonderland, run a 5K, made strong friendships, helped education people on domestic violence, gone to many Orioles games, splashed around in color at Holi, attended a concert, seen Beauty and the Beast performed live, listened to a lecture by the Dalai Lama, and much much much more (most adventures chronicled here on my blog). I’ve done so much that it’s hard to imagine I’m only 20 years old. I’ve done so much that it’s absolutely inconceivable to me how some people could be limited to experience such exciting events.

Tomorrow I’m going to laser tag, over the weekend I’m going to see Despicable Me 2, and I may even stop by bingo on Saturday. No, I don’t have that much money (especially since I’ve been working two unpaid internships), but I’ve come to realize that money is just money, and if I don’t spend it to give myself enjoyable life experiences with the people that I care about, what good is it. But, sadly, not all college-aged kids can say the same thing, because cost really is a determining factor.

college moneyAs a college student, I see this a lot. Kids are just too tied down paying for food, housing, tuition, books, to say yes to life. One day (hopefully) they will be settled in a career and able to make the kind of money that will let them live out their dreams. As for right now, it’s just sad to watch my friends limit all they could be experiencing due to cost.

If you don’t have money, try living within your means, but don’t forget to have fun. If you do have money, it’s nice to save some, but never forget to use it for what it’s meant for, LIVING!

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Ocean City Dreams

Every year my family takes a trip Ocean City, Maryland to visit my grandparents and have some fun in the sun.

I’m sure you all can guess exactly what comes with the promise of a family vacation:

  • Yelling and screaming over the TV channel
  • My grandparents’ refusal to turn on the air conditioningIMG_2194
  • Losing to my Mom in cards
  • Taking far too many pictures of my cat
  • Wishing my Poppy didn’t wake up the house at 5 in the morning by stirring his coffee
  • Trekking sand around the house all week despite making 1 trip to the ocean
  • Not having enough time to visit the boardwalk because your family is still playing with the cat
  • Sitting in traffic in the church parking lot after a slightly pathetic 4th of July fireworks display

This is the only real vacation I get for the summer. To some people, it may have seem like a wasted trip, more like a test of my patience than an enjoyable time. But, after vacationing with these people for all of my life, I’ve learned to look at things a different way.

So in addition to all of those riveting events, also came:

  • Sleeping in and bumming around watching American Pickers
  • A warmth that thawed me out from the constant stream of air conditioning I’ve grown accustomed to and will forever keep me heated
  • Trying to sabotage my Mom in cards and finding innovative ways to at least beat my DadDSCN0905
  • Taking far too many adorable pictures of my cat
  • Spending quality time with my silly and even more adorable grandparents
  • Relaxing on the beach and gaining a slight tan
  • Always finding room in my stomach to gorge myself with buttery scallo9ps
  • Watching fireworks with my one-of-a-kind family

One of my absolute favorite parts of this trip was getting to take pictures of our adventures. Even though we go every year, I’m always too busy living in the moment to take pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like that’s a great mentality to have, but when you want to share meaningful moments on a blog, pictures are nice too.

I hope you enjoy this!

I hope you enjoy this!

And even though the fireworks weren’t as good as they’ve been in the past, it’s still balls of light, color, and sound exploding into the night sky and occasionally making a smiley face. And that’ll always be worth seeing. When fireworks are involved, how could anyone not look on the bright side? (Pun intended…)

Make Your Bed, Make Your Day

I have vivid memories of being a young child and constantly being nagged to make my bed. I don’t know why it was any concern of my mother’s as to the cleanliness of my room, but she constantly fought with me over the state of my purple flowered sheets and green flowered quilt.

bed sheetsBut now that I’m older, something weird has happened. I simply cannot bare to start my day with an unmade bed.

I love knowing that no matter what happens in the day, I’m off to an organized and predictable start when I wake up and begin folding covers and tucking in edges just how I like. There’s a peace of mind offered by knowing that no matter what the day brings, I at least know I’ve gotten one thing right in making my bed.

Sometimes, mothers are smart ladies.

Pals of the Pen

I’ve always wanted a pen pal.

Ever since I was young, I’ve held an affinity for writing and a passion for connecting with other people.

The fact that we sit in traffic almost each and every day next to hundreds of people whose lives we will never know, whose circumstances we can only begin to imagine, whose hopes, dreams, and aspirations are a complete mystery to us but are also familiarly reflected in our own lives, is a truly unbelievable occurrence.

world with peopleThere are so many people in this world, and I’ve long harbored the dream to connect with those that I wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to meet. I always knew that it would be difficult to travel, and I thought that just by communicating with someone via letter, I could experience their world and live their reality. I wouldn’t have to wonder any longer what the 60 year old woman in the green Honda liked to sing to on the radio, or who the 18 year old boy was talking to with a smile on his face.

I’ve never actually had a pen pal, but this blog is getting pretty darn close to fulfilling that dream of mine. Through this post, these pieces, this site, I’ve shared my world and connected with others from all different walks of life.

I know that when I publish this post, it’ll be just like mailing a letter to my long-standing pen pal, humanity.blank letter