Being A Prep For A Week: 5/22/16 -- 5/28/16

To say I'm happy about being on summer vacation is a huge understatement.
This was one of those weeks where I refused to do anything productive, but for the first time, that course of action didn't cause a superfluous amount of stress to fall onto my shoulders.  Vastly increasing one's productivity levels usually isn't a good idea, but when you're in dire need of some rest, I've found that it's quite relaxing.  Of course, now that my week of rest is over with, I've got to proceed back to the drawing board--stay tuned for (semi) groundbreaking ideas!
Prep For A Day

Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Use social media to grow your email list by using some of Melyssa's foolhardy tips!
Nine beautiful street facades from around the world
How lovely are the interiors of these bookstores (visiting the Santorini shop is on my bucket list)?
Just bought this white shift dress for summer excursions
Take this quiz to discover what dog breed fits your personality (apparently I'm a poodle)

So whether you're enjoying summer break or you're only dreaming of carefree summer days, remember this:  "Whatever is good for the soul--do that."

How was your week?


Sophomore Lessons

After I completed my freshman year of high school, I decided to reflect upon some of the lessons I learned that year via blog post format.  Now that my sophomore year has come to an end, what better way to remember the past year than to continue on with that tradition?
I've heard mixed reviews about sophomore year from other sources, and now that I've been a sophomore, I think I understand why.  If you have yet to start your sophomore year, I have one important tidbit for you to digest:  this year is a year of change.
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1. Your "friend group" from freshman year may be subject to change.
With a new year comes a new class schedule, so it's likely that you may not be in many classes with the people who frequented your schedule freshman year.  Don't worry;  you will find other friends, and you might even reunite with friends from past years.

2. The homework load may begin to increase, so it would behoove you to really learn how to prioritize your schedule.
Personally, I had somewhat of a struggle with the average amount of homework I had to complete during sophomore year.  Even if this homework increase doesn't occur in your classes, it's never too early to learn how to schedule your assignments along with other events that fill up your afternoons.

3. Take standardized tests very seriously.
Many of the standardized achievement tests are geared towards juniors and seniors in high school, but that doesn't mean that you should wait until those years to start preparing.  Your future junior and senior selves will thank you for taking the initiative to start working early.

4. You will find friends in the most unlikely of places.
Whether you find yourself bonding with the most popular girl in the grade or with the math genius, remember that you have the ability to form a friendship with anyone, even someone you would've never considered.

5. Be kind to each person you meet, no matter his or her social status.
If you learn anything from this post, please learn the importance of being kind and courteous.  Even if the people around you delight in teasing one of your grade's social pariahs, try to strike a different chord.  No matter a person's popularity status, he is still a person, and he deserves to be treated as such.

6. Start forming bonds with your teachers.
To begin, in a few years you'll be in dire need of letters of recommendation, so it's a good idea to start making a good impression on the people who will ultimately end up writing them.  However, most of your teachers are also going to be interesting people, so you might just enjoy getting to know them throughout the year.

7. Don't let stress overwhelm you.
I've said it before and I'll say it again:  it isn't difficult to fall into the stress trap, but try to avoid doing so for the majority of the year.  Stress only decreases your grade point average and increases your anxiety, resulting in a less-than-healthy sophomore.

8. If someone repeatedly gives you the cold shoulder, chances are that they are anything but a friend.
That being said, friendships can be just as stressful as any school activities, and a way to counteract that aspect of stress is by realizing the differences between a true friend and a fair weather friend.

9. Take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you.
One positive about sophomore year is the number of unique opportunities that start popping up in the course of the semesters.  Don't be afraid of applying for that leadership program or interviewing for that job;  after all, with a bit of hard work and determination, anything can be achieved.

10.  Be a leader.
Out of all of the students present at your school, there is only one who has your talents and ideas:  you.  Use these things to start making a lasting contribution to your grade and the entire school, and don't be afraid to be just a little bit different from everyone else.  Everyone has the potential to be a leader in his or her own way;  why not you?

Sophomore year is definitely another year of change, but with change comes development and self-awareness.  If you've already experienced your sophomore year of high school, you probably know one thing to be true:  it's another year to find what makes you uniquely you.

What lessons have you learned about your sophomore year?


Being A Prep For A Week: 5/15/16 -- 5/21/16

Where does all of the time go in life, anyway?
I want to apologize for my abrupt hiatus from the blog;  the last few weeks of school were a little more than hectic.  However, let's not focus on that;  let's focus on the fact that I am officially on summer vacation, and blogging can now become one of my main focuses!  I hope you are all looking forward to reading newer and (hopefully) better material--I know I'm looking forward to writing it!  For now, I'm celebrating my ascension into junior year and, of course, I'm just happy that it's summer!
Prep For A Day

Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
I'm currently rereading this book series from my younger years.
Tassels + ties + espadrilles = the perfect pair of shoes for summer
Does anyone want to book a spur-of-the-moment trip to Mykonos?
Another reason to travel to Disney World:  they have embraced the croissant donut trend (finally)!
Lastly, if you need a good laugh, check out the Facts. YouTube channel!

With summer just around the corner, happy days are ahead, so the sentiment's true: "There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy."

How was your week?


Steal Her Style: Audrey Hepburn

I think one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn quotes is this:  "I'm always in sweaters and pants.  I have very few good clothes.  I have to take care of them.  I take them off as soon as I get upstairs."  Knowing that the woman who practically invented the little black dress really preferred sporting lounge clothes makes me feel a bit better about my own lazy days in the fashion department.
I think many of us get so caught up in the glamorous outfits of Audrey's characters (like Holly Golightly and Princess Ann) that we think she has a somewhat unattainable style--but as you can see, that couldn't be further from the truth.  If you want to really dress like Audrey, you'll only need a few basic essentials:
Prep For A Day

It's pretty clear that if you are yearning to emulate Audrey's style, you should stick with the "simple sophistication" route.  Grab a solid oxford shirt (or even a sweater during cooler months), some patterned pants, and a practical-yet-stylish pair of shoes to gain the actress's effortlessly chic look.
Don't you wish other celebrities had such laid-back approaches to fashion?

How would you describe Audrey's style?

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Ten Lessons from My Mother

I know what you might be thinking:  "Wasn't Mother's Day last weekend?"  Yes, it certainly was.  The more I thought about the matter, however, the more I realized that if we all appreciated our mothers' lessons even after Mother's Day, we would all most likely be in better frames of mind.
Most of the life lessons I have been taught have been handed down to me by my parents. They are firm believers in sharing their own past experiences with me, and by doing so, they have taught me so much about life:  the good, the bad, and how to react to both. Especially here lately, I've been appreciating my mother's trove of wisdom.  This post is just a sampling of the advice she's given me that has changed my life for the better.
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Lesson One:  Prioritize!  Make a list!  Decide what you "need" to get done versus what you "want" to get done.
My mother has told me this mantra approximately one hundred times in the past six months, and if I've learned anything, it's that life is much easier when you follow this rule of thumb.

Lesson Two:  Money cannot buy good taste.
The next time you catch yourself eyeing that celebrity's eye-opening shoes, just remember:  cost and style value are not necessarily directly related.

Lesson Three:  Sometimes you just need to step back, relax, and get your mind off of things.
When I'm extremely worried about something, this lesson never fails to get me in a better frame of mind.  Removing yourself from stressful situations is the first step to removing yourself from stress itself.

Lesson Four:  Karma is very, very real.
To put it very frankly:  life may not be fair, but it does have a charmingly ironic way of coming full circle.

Lesson Five:  It's not you, it's them.
When you are aware that people around you are being less than cordial, don't let yourself be tricked into thinking that their behavior is a result of some deficiency that exists inside of you.  Nine times out of ten, the people around you are the ones who have serious deficiencies, not you.

Lesson Six:  Always be yourself.
It's true:  there is no one out there who is you-er than you, and there is no one else who you are truly meant to be.

Lesson Seven:  Be thankful for all of the gifts you have been given.
Especially in times of stress and disappointment, it's in our nature to question why life has gone sour.  Instead of focusing on what is wrong, try to focus on what was right--or even better, focus on what will be made right by you making good use of your talents and decisions.

Lesson Eight:  Do not let others' negative opinions affect your choices or your opinion of yourself.
My mom once told me something that has stuck with me since:  "Don't let those people get to you;  don't let them make you think you are less than what you are.  Don't let them convince you to ruin your life, because in the end, you'll be the only one who has to deal with the pain."

Lesson Nine:  Do the right thing even when you might get flack for doing so.
I'm sure we all remember the school poster that read "What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right."  It's so, so true!  A quality that my mother values is integrity, and she has instilled its importance into my own ideals.

Lesson Ten:  Never, ever, EVER give up on your dreams or your goals.
If my mom were writing this, she would most likely end by expressing her hope that this lesson is the most-remembered of them all.  No matter what twists and turns are thrown into your life, never let anything distract or deter you from seeking your dreams.  Strive to live a life without regrets, and you will live happily.

If you take away even a fraction of my mother's no-nonsense, practical advice, I know you're on your way to achieving great things.  To conclude:  listen to the ones you love (especially mothers) because, believe it or not, they have advice worth listening to.

What are some of the lessons that you've received from your mother?


Being A Prep For A Week: 5/1/16 -- 5/7/16

If this week taught me anything, it's this:  life doesn't always go according to plan (in fact, it usually doesn't), but that isn't always a negative thing.
I also learned that shutting down or giving up in the face of adversity is a terrible idea, and that being true to oneself is always a good idea.  Most of all, I learned that I need to apply these lessons more often during my everyday life.  If anything, this week was a sort of crossroads--and I think I might just have turned down the right path for a change.  In less figurative terms, I only have about two more weeks left until my summer vacation begins (and more blogging arrives)!
Prep For A Day

Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Read about Duchess Kate's Vogue debut and the changing identity of the female royal
I posted a guest post on the She Can Blogger Network recently--fellow bloggers are more than welcome!
Discovered my new favorite blog and the cheeky travel blogger behind it (get ready for the British colloquialisms)
My favorite shoes of the week

If the past week wasn't your best one (AP exams are a nightmare) or even if it was a great one, I'll leave you with one piece of advice:  "Something will grow from all you are going through--and it will be you."

How was your week?


Little White Graduation Dresses

Graduation season is upon us!  For most ladies, that means trying to find the perfect white dress--and that can be difficult to find.  Thankfully retailers like Nordstrom, Lilly Pulitzer, and even Old Navy have huge selections to choose from.  Whether you'd prefer a feminine fit and flare or a flowy shift, there's a graduation dress out there for everyone.
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Window Pane Fit and Flare Dress -- Lace Fit and Flare Dress -- Eyelet Shift Dress

I also love this summery Lilly Pulitzer dress (the detailing is gorgeous) and this eyelet fit and flare, among others.

What are your favorite graduation dresses?

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The Depth of Your Life

I've had a bit of free time on my hands lately, and it's given me the chance to contemplate some nagging questions in the back of my mind.  The one that has been preoccupying my thoughts the most is, without a doubt:  "What am I doing with my life?"  It's a broad question, definitely, and it's one that can be hard for a fifteen-year-old to answer easily, but it's an important question nonetheless.
About a week ago, a girl who attended my school was killed in a wreck.  I didn't know her very well, but her story still struck a chord with me.  That girl was the same age as me when she died;  in fact, our places could've been swapped the night of that fatal wreck.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that life is the most precious gift we've been given, and it's one that is easily taken for granted.
You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.:

I'll be honest:  I haven't been treating my life as gingerly as I should.  Simple tasks like ensuring that I drink enough water and exercising my body have fallen to the back burner.  The weekdays seem like perpetual races against time, and the weekends have become excuses for extreme laziness.  Reading that girl's story allowed me to really see how I've been "living" the life that I've been given.  If I were to die tomorrow, would I die knowing that I had spent my years trying to make the most of each day?

At this point in time, I couldn't give a resounding affirmative.  But that's going to change, starting now.  From this point on, I'm going to cherish my life like never before;  I'm going to not only work hard to achieve my goals, but also recognize when I need to rest. I'm going to spend more time doing what I love with the ones I love, and I'm going to focus on happiness rather than boredom or pessimism.  I may not be able to guarantee myself a long life span or a string of successful achievements by taking this course of action, but I know that it will enable me to appreciate life in a wonderful new way.

My advice to you is simple.  I encourage you to value your life:  love it, hold on to it, and cherish it.  Cherish the people who fill your days with happiness and joy.  You cannot predict how long you will be blessed with them, or even with life itself.