All posts by oconnocm

What I’ve Learned This Year, Through the Words of Tina Belcher

I like to think that no matter how eloquently I put something, Tina Belcher (from Bob’s Burgers) says it better. Therefore, the lessons I’ve learned this year can be summed up in a few carefully chosen Tina Belcher quotes. These lovely gems came from Buzz Feed’s article “22 Life Lessons From Tina Belcher.” While they may be silly, I think humor is one of the most important things to embody when times are tough—or just in general. So, please enjoy the following list of lessons:

  1. “I’m a smart, strong, sensual woman.” As hilarious as this is coming out of Tina Belcher’s mouth, it’s something I’ve learned this past year. I have learned to be intentional about loving myself, including the various identities and characteristics I inhabit by embracing my queerness, practicing body positivity, and allowing myself to indulge in Netflix binges when I needed recharging. I have found that it is incredibly easy to fall into destructive patterns of ignoring my own needs, or letting other people’s opinions about me affect my confidence. But as long as I stay in line with Tina’s sentiment, it always ends up ok.
  2. “Is it possible to be in love with 25 people at once?” Tina may be referring to a team of attractive baseball players, but for me this quote is all about spreading compassion and love. It took me a while to find my place here at JMU, but when I did, I was so warmly welcomed by so many organizations and groups of people (to whom I am forever indebted to). I try to live in such a way that I can be a warm and welcome presence in the lives of others as well. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredibly smart and passionate people, such as my fellow TAD friends, the members of Campus Assault Response (CARE), and Madison Equality, and I can only hope to return the favor.
  3. “Dad, if you believe you’re beautiful, you will be. I did.” Positivity and determination are two skills I have worked particularly hard on perfecting this year. This has been both the hardest and most rewarding year of my life. Some days were extremely hard to stay positive during, but it all came back to my willingness to just keep working at everything I had going on. And as cliché as it is, I know I’m better for it.
  4. “Ugh, my heart just pooped its pants.” It’s not surprising that Tina said this, is it? I’m not sure exactly how to apply this quote to my personal life lessons; the possibilities seem endless. I think it ultimately takes me back to the importance of keeping a sense of humor and being flexible when things don’t work out. This year has taught me to be ok with things not going as planned. And as someone who is a little bit of a control freak, this has been huge.

I hope that some of my Tina Belcher lessons have been helpful to you too. If you’re ever feeling low, channel Tina and repeat the following quote in your head: “Time for the charm bomb to explode.” You’re fabulous!

Floral Fun DIY

Making a place into a home is an endeavor that requires time and care. And as a 22 year old, I haven’t had extensive experience with this. But I will say that moving from a crowded four-person apartment to a one bedroom requires a special kind of organization, and offers a blank canvas in the form of 638 square feet. When I first saw the unit, I was enchanted with visions of the cozy apartment I could turn it into. The tenant living there at the time had a pretty loose interpretation of the word “homey,” namely because his main decorative feature was a light up and/or inflatable palm tree (I can’t remember which). So when I began to think about decorating this apartment with my partner, naturally the first thing I did was go to Pinterest for a little “pinsperation.” That’s where I found this tutorial that I later adapted for my apartment, a DIY project to create unique floral letters for hanging up on a wall. This DIY the first one I did for my new apartment and my favorite so far. You’ll need a glue gun, a letter to decorate, and a bunch of fake flowers (details below). So, here’s my adaption of the project in five short steps:

Continue reading Floral Fun DIY

Life Outside the Office

What do I do outside of TAD?

Well, I could go a couple routes here. I could tell you that I’m extremely passionate about sexual assault and intimate partner violence advocacy, and that a majority of my time is spent working on that. Or, because less of my time is spent on leisure activities, I could focus on those, since those parts of me don’t get as much airtime. Or I could talk about how much I love writing…but that must be obvious right? Continue reading Life Outside the Office

20 Reasons Why Winter Break is the Best and the Worst

Why it’s the Best:

  1. No homework! Finals are over and you’re at peace with the fact that cramming may not result in the most impressive of grades. But it’s over, right?
  2. Upon staying with your parents (or other family members) for a month, you revert back to the helpless state of a middle schooler and allow them to make you PB & J’s and wash your clothes.
  3. The potential for taking up the old hobbies you’ve neglected like skateboarding, close up magic, or cooking is endless.
  4. Netflix. All the time.
  5. Continue reading 20 Reasons Why Winter Break is the Best and the Worst

What are Online Portfolios all About?

Whether you are an artist, a writer, a scientist, or even an events coordinator, you have the need to market yourself. As graduation quickly approaches, there will likely be one thing on your mind: finding a job. So what if you had the ability to not only find a potential employer, but the ability to direct them to a personalized site of your own creation containing an anthology of your best works, your resume, and a some basic information about yourself? Well friends, this is what an online portfolio is, and it could be the deciding factor between you and a candidate with equal qualifications.

An online portfolio serves many functions, here are a few:

  1. As I mentioned earlier, it can offer an array of work samples, your resume, etc. This allows an employer direct access to your best work and gives them a chance to get to you know you a little. Humanizing a name on a piece of paper is always a good thing!
  2. Going into job applications with a perfected portfolio communicates professionalism and passion for your given field.
  3. An online portfolio is more accessible than scanning and mailing your creations, or attaching them to an email.
  4. Online portfolios have endless potential for customization. So this means that you get to choose exactly how your site appears, and can design one that is tailored to the kind of work you want to show off.
  5. Online portfolios increase your visibility ten-fold. You can put the link on your LinkedIn, your business card, and even in your email signature. So anyone who is intrigued can check out your work, and even pass it along to colleagues.
  6. Online portfolios are ideal for digital works such as photographs, writing, graphic design, and more. You can’t beat the stunningly crisp quality a digital image lends itself to.

Now, how do you create one of these online portfolios? Well it’s simpler than you think. First, choose your site. WordPress, Wix, and Weebly are all good starters and they all offer a wide range of free options (with the potential for upgrades if you want to spend the cash). Each takes time to learn, but dedicating time to this will be worth it in the end. For help and tutorials visit JMU’s Lynda. Second, look over your work samples. Pick four or five of your best works that are relevant to the field you want to work in. If you feel you don’t have enough samples, then take the time to create some! Lastly, work on the aesthetics. Fields such as design or art leave room for a more creative look, whereas other fields like science or writing would be best presented in a cleaner, simpler style. Search for some inspiration if you get stuck, there are already a ton of portfolios out there, so don’t be afraid to mimic a style that you like.

To round this out, a few last words of advice: don’t provide links to your social media unless they are spotless, do present yourself in an honest and genuine way, and do put some information about yourself, but don’t make it overly personal; always be professional, and good luck!

Unofficial Orientation

And so another semester at JMU begins. You reacquaint yourself with those signature JMU hills, curse at the traffic you hoped would magically disappear this year, and dig out your trusty JAC card. Or maybe this year is your first at JMU, and if so, just look at that last sentence as a preview of what’s to come.

Welcome freshman and transfer students! Consider this your unofficial orientation, and some advice from someone who’s been-there done-that.

  1. Get involved! No really. Go to Student Org Night each semester! Even if it is hot, crowded, and people are shoving flyers at you all night. You never know when you’ll run across The One; the club that helps unearth your true passion.
  2. Explore all possible majors. You may think you have it all figured out, and you may think you’re perfectly happy with your predetermined major. But what if you were to discover something like, say, Justice Studies or Biology, and realize that’s where your true calling lies?
  3. Don’t let yourself get too comfortable. You are here to challenge yourself and that means experiencing new things, so don’t rule out the hula hooping club (Free Flow), the Quidditch team, or D-Hall (Cheesy Thursdays!).
  4. Get the JMU Bus App. It will help you decipher the maze of bus routes and you’ll thank yourself later.
  5. Save your documents online. Use something like Google Drive so when you inevitably loose that USB dangerously dangling from your keychain during finals week, you won’t see your life flash before your bloodshot eyes.
  6. Explore downtown. I have heard way too many upperclassmen say they still haven’t ever really been downtown. Venture outside the JMU bubble, like now. Who doesn’t love a good farmer’s market, salsa night, burger topped with mac and cheese, or a little light afternoon shopping?
  7. Save yourself some money. Don’t make the mistake of spending $500 on full priced books the first semester. Chegg (and Amazon) exist for a reason, people.
  8. Invest in a good quality, waterproof backpack. Because we all know that canvas messenger bag or Vera Bradley tote is cute, but when you’re halfway through the semester with an aching back and rain-soaked notes, you’ll be thinking otherwise.
  9. Look for internships early. Don’t wait until your last semester. Consider these as test runs for your future career, resume builders, and invaluable hands-on experiences in your job field.
  10. If you live in a dorm, shower shoes. ‘Nough said.
  11. Look for unique classes to fulfill your credit requirements. Because why not take Fly Fishing for your lab or Elementary Ballet for fun?!
  12. Find a job on campus! If you’re like me, money doesn’t just appear on that worn out debit card, you gotta work for it. You can’t beat the commute, flexible hours, and the always-flattering purple uniform (seriously, purple is a good color on almost everyone).
  13. Lastly, seek out diversity. Don’t let yourself fall into a blissfully ignorant state, constantly surrounded by people just like you. There’s more out there, you just have to look for it!

Summer Musings

And so another April shows itself in a fury of chirping birds, balmy breezes, and spring showers. The Quad is littered with too-cute puppies, green grass, and a maze of brightly colored beach towels and abandoned text books. I am forever amazed at how quickly summer rolls around each year and the anticipation is always palpable in the air; this year is no different aside from the persnickety weather (a.k.a., the high number of impromptu snow storms we have received this year). But what’s a broke upcoming senior college student to do with the impending freedom that is visible just over the horizon? The finish line in only four weeks out and talk of summer plans has begun.

Well, let’s see. I could sit at home… or I could brave the five hour long flight to Los Angeles with my parents and their group of SMAD students. The trip is sure to bring a variety of hip restaurants, a trip to Warner Bros Studio, and some beach time. But here’s my problem, where I always get stuck: the flight.

Most people have experienced the hell that is the security checkpoints in every airport. But that is not the problem; I’ll gladly downsize my economy sized (now 33% more in every bottle!) conditioner into a TSA approved two ounce container and leave liquids at home. For some people it could be the airport food that’s a problem (and believe me I’ve been there), but that’s not it either. Is it the “now even more leg room”, but still completely tiny, coach seats one must endure? No. Not even that can deter me from flying.

Maybe it’s the high probability that you’ll end up on a flight with a fussy baby, your luggage will be lost, or you’ll be forced to do the awkward dance to squeeze past the people between you and the bathroom? Or the dilemma of the comfort a window seat offers versus an aisle seat which boasts easy accessibility? Or the possibility that there will be no in-flight movie? Not to mention, flights are cutting down on free beverage services. Again, no. None of this is an issue!

Ok, I will end the suspense. It is the sheer terror that inevitably ensues when I set foot on a plane. The “I just felt turbulence, this is where I will die, my life is incomplete, why did I agree to this?” feeling. Cold sweats and hot flashes, intense nausea, racing heartbeat, and white knuckling the arm rest are all tell tale signs of an anxious flier. Some rare but possible signs include gasping loudly at a sudden descent in altitude or grabbing the stranger’s hand next to you (I haven’t gotten there yet). Without fail, every year someone will tell me “you’re more likely to die in a car accident than you are to die in a plane accident,” to which I reply “that means nothing to me.”

So from one nervous flier to another, here are some practical tips to make it through your summer trips:

  • Statistics can’t solve everything, but some of the numbers are somewhat comforting, so check them out
  • Breathe! In and out, in and out. Don’t stop.
  • Close your eyes and as soon as you’re allowed, switch on your iPod to the most calming music you can find. I recommend Greg Laswell
  • Arrive plenty early to allow yourself time to get settled
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they could exacerbate your anxiety
  • Travel with a good friend
  • Most importantly, bring a good book or movie to distract yourself
  • Finally, if the anxiety is not able to be calmed, consider talking to your doctor about a mild sedative you can take before you board
  • Visit this site for more tips