Four Ways to Give Back in your Community this Holiday Season


As the holidays approach, it is easy to see our schedules fill up with parties, events, and end the season wondering if we really made a difference. Of course, those activities are fun, and should be enjoyed throughout the holiday times, but it is wonderful to use our time to make a difference. Especially as a high schooler or a teen, I wanted to compile a list of places you can make a true impact this year.

Image: KVCC Foundation

  1. Volunteer at a food bank, or soup kitchen. A place that provides food to the homeless or struggling, can literally save lives and be what stands in the gap for hungry families. You’d be surprised how many children and teens go hungry (about 1 in 7 people in America struggle with hunger), which means it affects your classmates and friends, and you may not realize it.
  2. Ask your local foster care association how you can help: Foster children are often overlooked during the holidays, but you can help by supplying gifts to foster families or asking what organizations need. There are even foster care “trees” in various places in communities, where you can sign up to bring a foster child in need a special gift. This is a simple way you can help!
  3. Look out for the elderly: Elderly people struggle in the cold months, and often need meals brought, walkways shoveled, and leaves raked. You can also visit the elderly in care facilities, especially those who may not have family members visiting often. Consider putting together cards or gifts (ask your friends to help) for the people who might be lonely. Check on your elderly neighbors, as they can be at risk for falling in their own homes if they live alone.
  4. Adopt a family or classmate in need: Maybe you know of someone who could use extra cheer, or who is having trouble making their bills or buying christmas presents this year. You can anonymously leave a gift card or money under their doormat, or bring groceries or a meal. If you want to help a classmate anonymously, you can ask your school office to help you do so discreetly.

No matter how you choose to pitch in this year, know that your efforts will make a true and lasting difference!

Stress Relief for Finals/Midterms


image: the odyssey online

It’s the scariest time of the year: finals are around the corner, and you’ve given your social life a proper burial. You’re spending all of your free time at home studying and cramming for everything, and the days start to blend together. Sleep has become simply exercise, as you toss and turn, trying to clear your mind of all the swirling worries and thoughts in your head. If any of this sounds at all familiar, then let me be the voice of reason here and say: it doesn’t have to be this way. Check out these tips on stress relief, and avoid the worst weeks of your life!

•Talk it out

One of the easiest ways to relieve stress is to talk about it. One of the most stressful things is letting your anxieties fester, and the sooner you let them out, the sooner you’ll be rid of it! The problem is, though, who you should talk about it with. Often if you were to talk about it with your fellow classmates, you end up commiserating with each other, and you feel worse about it than you did before. Some of the best people you can talk to about any of your problems are your parents, and often they’re waiting for you to ask. I’d say start there, talk about your plans for finals, and go over you anxieties about it. They’ll be sure to have some advice for you, and being your parents, they know just what would help you the most.

image: greatist

•Get out and run

I know, I know. How in the world can going for a run help anything? For some of us, one of the least enjoyable things they could possibly do is running. Trust me, I’ve been there, but if you’ve been there too, you know that you only felt better about yourself after you’ve ran. That’s because running releases feel-good endorphins that boost your mood, and quiet down all the racing thoughts in your mind. If you can fit it in, a quick jog after school and before you study can help you hit the books with a clear mind.

•Work on your baking skills

Maybe you’re wondering why baking is on a list of stress relievers. Well, it’s on here for good reason. Like playing music or drawing, it’s one of those activities that soothes your mind and helps you to focus on things that aren’t studying. Even when you aren’t pouring over your textbook, all the problems and questions are still rushing around your mind. Baking will help you direct your mind away from all of that, and onto something beneficial and rewarding. You can bake yourself some healthy muffins for the mornings ahead, while getting rid of stressful thoughts. Win-win!

•Random acts of kindness

Sometimes, the best thing to do to get out of your own head is to focus on someone else. If you have some time on a Saturday afternoon, get out of the house and into a homeless shelter. Volunteer at any charitable organization, spend an hour or so serving others, and you’ll forget all about stress. Help out at a animal shelter, and you even get to spend your time around cute furry animals that help minimize your stress levels, too! If those aren’t options for you, do something kind for your mom, read a bedtime story to your younger brother, or mix and match the last tip and bake some cookies for your family!

Those are some of the things that I’ve used to keep my anxiety from taking over, just in everyday life. There are other things you can do as well, like getting plenty of rest and using sweat lodges, to name a few, but do what’s best for you. You know yourself better than anyone else, after all. Good luck, and stay stress-free!

Three Ways to be an Encouragement


High school is a hard time for some people. Some of us have awesome memories of our four years in high school, but for others, it was a time filled with bullying and painful memories that span well into adulthood. That’s why today, I want to talk about three ways you can be an encouragement to someone at your school, and why it makes a difference. I’ve heard countless stories about how one single person can make the difference between depression and anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. I think it’s so important to stand in the gap for people at your school, because you have no idea what they’re going through. Here are some simple ways to do that:

  1. Leave someone a note. There are multipacks available at the dollar store, and greeting cards that are 2/$1, which means you can do this really affordably. Think about people who could use an encouraging word, maybe someone who got a bad grade on a test after studying very hard, a student whose family is going through a hard time, or someone who is home sick. A note can really cheer up someone’s day! Want to really encourage a stranger? Tuck a cheery note into a library book, or leave it in the bathroom for someone to find and brighten their day. You can also do this with sticky notes of encouraging phrases (we have heard of students doing this with awful, teasing notes, so this is a wonderful counteraction).
  2. Bring someone a coffee or tea: sometimes a nice treat can be a real encouragement. People who could use a fun drink like a smoothie or coffee, would be anyone who is feeling down, or even a teacher. Teachers are rarely thanked for their hard work, and it says a lot to bring them a special treat now and again, with a handwritten note.
  3. Find a way to help someone in need: If you know what your strengths are, like math or science, you can find ways to tutor other students who are struggling. If you play an instrument, find out if you can play a concert at a local nursing home, and take other music students with you (be sure to check with your school to see if there is already a program set up). Research shows helping others can really decrease depression and anxiety in yourself, too!

Being an encouragement to others is the best way to counteract bullying and negativity that is happening at your school. If you want to see change, you need to have it start with you!

Excursion Vests: Your Winter Best Friend!


It’s 7:30 in the morning. The sun rays flooding through your window have finally crept up the floor to your eyes, and the light beats against your eyelids until you finally decide to open them up. It’s a new morning! You sit up in bed, and all of a sudden you feel it rush upon you, crawling up your spine and spreading out to your goose-pimply arms: the icy morning air! Your blankets wrap themselves around you to save you from the chill, and you wonder why you’d ever leave their warm embrace.

So often I go through this morning routine, but responsibility calls me out of my warm bed every time. I try to make the exchange of pj’s for regular clothes as short as possible, and nothing makes braving the cool outdoors easy like my excursion vest does. It’s my favorite armor for the brisk weather: it’s lightweight and slim enough to cover virtually any outfit, but thick enough to keep out the bitterest of colds.

image: jcrew

Its down insides compliment its quilted outsides, making it into a statement as much as a useful tool as winter approaches. It comes in tons of different styles, and you’ll see new fall and winter colors and textures popping up on all of your friends when they set their sights on these vests. You could try the classic solid, quilted look, or spice it up with some corduroy highlights for a winter themed style. You can experiment with what you wear under it, too, layering complimentary patterns to add more interest.

All in all, your best friend in fighting frost with fashion is your excursion vest, and you can find them just about anyplace! Click HERE to start with a great style from JCrew, and follow it all the way to your favorite pick.

Featured Session | Olivia | Augusta, GA Senior Photographer


Elegance: I saw it personified during Olivia’s shoot, which was one of my favorites sessions ever! She and I determined before we set out that we wanted to focus on natural backdrops, and a complimentary color palette. Case in point, notice her gorgeous purple top and blue jeans against the deep green leaves. All those wonderful colors were easy on the eyes, and Olivia makes it even easier. She’s a passionate girl, who takes care to notice other’s needs around her, and she’s got a great sense of humor on top of it all! It was such a joy to spend the time with her and to brainstorm her shoot together!

Speaking of working together, I wanted to talk a little bit about what you can expect on your first shoot with me. Whether you’re a senior commemorating your graduation, or you’re getting some headshots in the studio, or you’d just like some nice pictures of yourself (because, let’s face it, you deserve it!), I want you to feel comfortable and at home in front of the camera. I know the trials and the perils of a photo shoot all too well, and I work as hard as I can to make your first experience your best, and the first of many to come.

It’s up to you and I to decide on what we can make happen for your shoot, and it’s my job to make your vision a reality! Olivia and I worked together on colors, location, poses, outfits, etc. These are photos that you’re going to look back on for years and years, so having control over what they look like is an important thing. If you’re not sure about what you’d like to see in your session, I make it easy for you and present you with a plethora of options that I think you’d love, and we go from there.

Overall, your photo session is about you, and we’re partners in making lasting memories you can hold in your hands, and remember forever. Contact me HERE today to book your session!