What I Learned in Boating School Is…

Ok, so I am not in boating school. Unless you are going for a job to be a cruise line driver, I am not even sure such a thing exists. The title is a play on one of the best Spongebob Squarepants episodes ever. In the episode, to pass his boating license test, Spongebob must write an essay “What I learned in boating school is…” In a case of extreme test anxiety and childish Nickelodeon humor, he has a meltdown and is unable to finish the test. Mrs. Puff, his puffer fish boating teacher…well…she puffs up in distress that Spongebob has yet again failed his test.

But alas, I am not in boating school. I am in teacher school…kind of. And Writing for the Media is one of the many hoops in which I must jump through in order to be able to teach the real life “Spongebobs” of the world how to read, write and articulate in this convoluted language known as “English.” I have made it to the “What I learned in Writing for the Media” episode and this is part of my test.

What I learned in Writing for the Media is that the media can be very powerful. I thought reading the test book was going to be a drag, I’ll be honest. But it was quite interesting, at times controversial, and it questions morals and ethics now and again. There is a reason that the phrase “power of the press” exists. It can literally make or break people, elections, families, relationships, careers and companies. Messing with the press is something I would suggest you steal clear of.

What I learned in Writing for the Media is that I don’t suck at journalism as much as I thought I did. I was never very gifted in this area. There is a whole different set of rules for writing. After having had almost 16 years of academic writing beat into my brain, I thought for sure that this class and those quizzes were going to be a nightmare. My decent grades were a pleasant surprise. I don’t know if I’d feel 100% comfortable running a high school newspaper or something like that, but I know I would have more confidence teaching journalism as a whole.

What I learned in Writing for the Media is that social media has become just as important as the news on TV, the news in newspapers and what is published in magazines. I am much more aware of where I get my news, what outlets they come from, their reliability and so forth. It is not uncommon for me to scroll through Facebook or Twitter and find out the weather, accidents, local, national and international news all within 3 minutes because of shares, retweets and hashtags. Since it is social media, I have learned to identify solid and legitimate sources verses those who post gossip or skewed/biased information or stories.

What I learned in Writing for the Media is that the blogging world is stuck with me. I kinda like this gig. 🙂


Ordinary People

I don’t usually go so serious with my posts being that I’m a real life goofball, but I do believe that this is important.

A few years back our previous next-door-neighbor who was like my second mother, was diagnosed with TNBC- triple negative breast cancer. Sadly, that was only the beginning of her battles. After almost 4 years, multiple surgeries, chemo treatments, and radiation, Shelly went home to be with the Lord. Though I grieve for the moments and memories she will not be here to make, I rejoice in the life that she has lived and the memories that I do have with her.

Shelly and I the day I was baptized on our mission trip to Freehold/Neptune, NJ.

Shelly and I the day I was baptized on our mission trip to Freehold/Neptune, NJ.

I don’t know how it came about but sometime at youth group she came up with “ordinary people plugged into an extraordinary power source.” God continuously finds ordinary people, the ones who stutter, the ones who doubt, the ones who seem the most unlikely and ordinary- He takes them in, and gives them the power to be extraordinary.

Let me say this again, God takes ordinary people, Moses, Abraham, David, Esther…the list is endless, and He gives them the power to be and do extraordinary things. We are ordinary people. We eat, sleep and breathe as they did. We stutter, we are the youngest brother, we question whether or not God will fulfill His promises, we are an ordinary woman. It is through faith, the power and love of God that we have the ability and strength to be extraordinary.

If there is anything that Shelly taught me, it was that though we are ordinary, that we can be extraordinary. Through her more recent treatments she continued to teach. Up until about a month ago she was TEACHING with her brain and body riddled with cancer, she continued to love her students. Her battle with cancer was only a chapter in her life. She was extraordinary well before she ever heard the words “you have cancer.” She was an extraordinary teacher who loved those who needed love, who sought to make learning fun, that went above and beyond to make sure her students were successful. She was an extraordinary mother who not only loved the children that God blessed her with, but everybody else’s as well. It was not uncommon for her to walk into room of kids to a chorus of “Mama Sobel!” A testament to her acceptance, love and kindness to all. She was an extraordinary listener. Regardless of who needed to be heard and for what reason, she always patiently sat, listened and gave counsel. Shelly had an extraordinary faith, facing everything with a strength, grace and perseverance that could only come from the Lord.

Praying over students on a mission trip

Praying over students on a mission trip

It would be easy to write another few hundred words to describe the person that she was, but I think you get the point. I can only hope to be as plugged in and extraordinary one day.

Some people have the genetic disposition for cancer to develop and grow in their bodies. Others make choices that have the potential to lead to cancer later in their lives. Here are some tips and facts to encourage you to make better choices and protect yourself.

-SUNSCREEN! Skin cancer, though it can be very treatable, is one of the more common cancers. By keeping up with and applying sunscreen, you can cut down your chances significantly.

-Stay away from tobacco in any capacity. When I was on the local Relay For Life committee, I went to a meeting at the ACS building where they had a box filled with cigarette ingredients that included ingredients in rat poisoning among other things. It was repulsive. These toxins are also in second-hand smoke. If you do smoke, have the courtesy to not subjugate those around you to it.

-Eat well! Foods high in antioxidants, along with a well-balanced diet with little to no processed foods and proper proportions can go a long way to helping your body prevent and fight cancer.

-Be aware of your body. Some lumps and bumps are normal depending on hormones, injuries etc. Others are not. If you have a history of cancer in your family, you should be extra wary and start screenings earlier than most. For more info on common cancers for men and women and what to look for, check out the American Cancer Society’s Find Cancer Early page. Early detection saves lives!!!

For more information on cancer, Relay For Life, research that is happening right now to find the cure, your local ACS, how to get involved, even support and treatment, visit www.cancer.org– it just might save your life.

34916_1531018240513_868412_nAnd remember-

Though you may be ordinary, when you are plugged in, God has a plan and the power to make you extraordinary. 

Planner Bag and Sticker Storage with Taylor

This video was done by my planner friend Taylor! It combines two of my favorite things- Erin Condren planners AND Vera Bradley. I actually worked at Vera Bradley for a little over a year and have so much it’s crazy!

The Vera Travel Organizer is one of my favorite pieces. It usually sits on a shelf with the rest of my Vera, under-used because it’s a travel item. When I do travel and want to bring my planner stuff, it is a full Vera Tote of stuff all on its own. I like that each section has its own purpose and really keeps it organized instead of it all getting thrown together. I currently have a cute Target One Spot felt envelope that I keep my planner in. I see changing that in the near future! My planner fits perfectly and I have room on the sides to stash pencils/pens.

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I couldn’t have come up with better a better sticker storage idea if I tried! I currently have 3 Target One Spot accordion folders for my sticker collection.

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One small one holds my Erin Condren personalized stickers that come with planners/notebooks (top). My first medium-sized one holds stickers topically- animals, food, birthday, quotes, school etc. My second medium folder has stickers organized by month/holiday, February/Valentines Day, July/Fourth of July….you get the picture. It can be kind of a pain when I’m trying to plan. In my infinite wisdom I got matching folders to be cute…and I always grab the wrong one! By putting them in a binder like Taylor, that eliminates a lot of the problem because there is simply more room. I can put them all in one spot and have them labeled with tabs! Staples and Michaels constantly have binders like that for sale. One more project to add to the organizing list!

If you enjoyed her video, you can follower her YouTube account Ask Me About My Planner. To see more of her massive sticker collection and general cool planner things, follow her on Instagram @AskMeAboutMyPlanner!

Don’t forget to follow Brunetteswithbrains on Instagram for blog posts and other random fun, Pinterest and right here on WordPress!

Where can you find a planner to use all of these adorable additions!? Here is a referral link for $10 off of a purchase of an Erin Condren planner for yourself! After you create an account you will receive an email with the code. 2015 planners are currently 40% off and you can use the additional $10 off making planners $20! 2015-2016 planners will be rolling out in June! HAPPY PLANNING!