Local Book Drive: Help Me Raise 600 Books for The Children of Philadelphia

Reading has always been a part of my life in some shape or form; whether it be for the use of education, research or leisure, it’s had a way of shaping my life. However, there is a lost generation of readers in today’s society.

I believe reading is fundamental for everyone, but primarily for children, adolescents and young adults. The society we live in is constantly progressing in the technology industry, and between social media and television, reading has taken a place on the back burner, but I’m one of many hoping to change that.

This spring, I am partnering with Tree House Books, a local non-profit organization whose “vision is to see that every child in Philadelphia has access to books and every opportunity to pursue their dreams. We are on a mission to grow and sustain a community of readers, writers, and thinkers.” 

Founded in 2005, Tree House Books classifies themselves as a Giving Library and Literacy Center in North Philadelphia with a dual purpose to provide free books to the community, and Out of School Time (OST) programs that increases literacy skills, and promote a lifelong love of reading and writing in children from their earliest moments, through high school, and beyond.

More specifically, I will be working within their Books in Every Home campaign which is on a mission to give deserving families in Philadelphia access to books who may not have otherwise. A statement on their website that I can fully support is that they understand that most of a child’s learning goes beyond a traditional school setting and the need to encourage and inspire reading in homes is crucial. However, these children are attending schools that do not have lending libraries or may be low-income households that cannot afford to purchase books to bring into the home. And that’s why I want to help achieve their goal of distributing 75,000 books in 2018 throughout the city, surpassing their total of 67,000 in 2017.

Reading was always so easily accessible to me either at home or school growing up. I love getting lost in the words of an author, living vicariously through characters, learning something new, expanding my imagination far past the words on the pages.

More than that, reading can have other long-term effects such as improving focus and concentration, enhancing memory, expanding imagination, healthier alternative for entertainment, language development, increase of knowledge, and long-term academic success.

 The 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading test results demonstrate that far too many young people continue to read below grade level. Sixty five percent of all U.S. fourth graders scored “below proficient,” which means that they are not reading at grade level. Only 35 percent of fourth graders are reading at or above grade level. In addition, 64 percent of eighth graders are reading below grade level, whereas 36 percent are reading at or above grade level. Still, these statistics do show an improvement at both grade levels. In 1992, 72 percent of fourth graders and 71 percent of eighth graders were reading below grade level.  – U.S. Department of Education, “The Nation’s Report Card,” 2013.

For more staggering facts about he literacy rates in our nation, visit this site:

http://thencbla.org/literacy-resources/statistics/

This book drive is small step for me, however, it is one that can have a large impact on families throughout Philadelphia, but I need your help.

My goal is to collect 600 books to donate to Tree House Books within the next 6 weeks.

Tree House is specifically looking for all children’s books, classic literature used in schools, and African-American literature, but are accepting all books, with exception of encyclopedias, as they can find a home for every book, or they can keep them in their giving library in North Philadelphia.

Alternatively, if you do not have any books you wish donate, but still want to support the organization, you can make a donation on their website!

Contact me via this post, by email at keoughmeg1@gmail.com, or by phone if you have my number if you wish to donate some books or have any questions! You can also drop off locally at either Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, PA or The Borough Brewhouse in Jenkintown, PA. I truly appreciate any and all donations in my effort to help bring literacy back!

*And don’t forget to celebrate World Book Day on April 23rd!*

 

 

 

 

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The Pros and Cons of A Snow Day

First day of spring and a snow day! Well, who doesn’t love paid-time off? I sure as hell do. However, that’s not the case for every employed person; some still have to work, or work from home, or some don’t make money for that day, or they may eventually have to make this day up. Here’s a list of my opinions on snow days sorted by the pros and cons!

PROS: 

-In the likelihood that you don’t have to work from home on your snow day and get a free day off, then this has to be the biggest pro! It’s like a vacation day to do absolutely nothing.

-Even if you do have to work from home, at least you can do it in the comfort of your pajamas and bed. The bright side is you’re still getting paid and don’t have to leave your home.

-Food & drinks. You can day load with friends or family, either at home or at a local bar, make a ton of food that tastes so good but is so bad for you at the same time, or a combination of both.

-This makes the week go by so much faster! Returning to work tomorrow with only 2 more days until the weekend is a godsend.

-Relax, relax, relax. Snow days for me are the least stressful days. I can catch up on some shows, do some online shopping, nap, read, etc. I have no one to entertain and I don’t have to feel guilty about laying around in my pajamas from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed.

-Not have to deal with your co-workers for 24 hours. I think we can all be thankful for this.

CONS:

-Not having a snow day. Commuting to and from work in this weather has to be incredibly frustrating and slow moving. Hopefully most companies can sympathize with this or at least let you out early! Obviously if you work in a health professionals field or public safety, you probably have to go regardless, but hopefully the day is pretty easy.

-Not having a free day off from work is unfortunate in this case. I remember in my last full-time position, the owner closed the company for the day but we weren’t eligible to work from home and he wasn’t willing to pay us for the day unless we made up by staying an hour late for the eight days following. Which was pretty much bullshit since it wasn’t our decision not to come to work.

-In another case, some people do have the availability to work from home, which I’ve never done, so I can’t say what it’s like, but it’s definitely still a bummer having to work from home even if you are getting paid.

-If you’re in the same position as me and still living at home, snow days can be somewhat boring if you are looking to drink and get drunk. The only two drinking partners I have under the same roof are mom and dad which isn’t too appealing. Snow days in college were 10000x better.

-You could be living alone which I can imagine would be pretty boring.

-If you’re a teacher, all of these snow days are most likely getting added on to the end of the year which I’m sure isn’t ideal as your summer is repeatedly becoming delayed.

-Shoveling. Can’t say I’m a victim to this labor, but most of my guy friends are so I sympathize.

Whatever you’re doing on your snow day today, if you were lucky enough to have one, stay warm & try to make the most of it, because it’s back to work tomorrow!

 

The Random Things That Make My Weeks More Exciting

When working in a structured 9-5 schedule day in and day out, sometimes the days can become mundane and repetitive, almost like a merry-go-round. Aside from the weekends, you most likely do the same thing everyday from the time you wake up until the time it’s time to recharge your batteries again. For me, I typically come home from work and either do laundry, clean, occasionally go to the gym, and by occasionally I mean never, read, blog, watch TV, etc. Nothing too crazy.

But, sometimes during the week, there are small things I tend to get excited about and that’s what I want to write about today. It’s a snow day here in Philly and I have nothing but time on my hands, so here it goes.

1. Giveaways & Promos

In the blogging community, whether you’re a part of a structured organization of bloggers, or you just have your own community through your growing following, you often stumble across really cool deals, opportunities and promos.

Yesterday,  one of the blogs I follow along had a promo code up for a free trial for Rocksbox.com which I had never heard of but it’s similar to Ipsy and Birchbox but for jewelry! So, I’m waiting for my free package in the mail now, I’ll let you guys know how it goes! I’m also going to try and snag a free code for you guys too!

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2. Book launch team for one of your favorite authors? Say no more

This could have happened with or without my blog advantages, but I’m super excited about this. Paul Angone, author of 101 Secrets for your Twenties and All Groan Up, which I have featured on my blog previously, is releasing a new book in April titled 101 Questions for Your Twenties.

I was selected to be a apart of this book launch team along with 200 other fans and readers as we are awaiting our free copy in the mail! After reading, we will review the book on various platforms such as Amazon and Google reads as well as share on our social media. I will definitely putting s full in-depth review up on my site for everyone!

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3. Finding a face mask that actually works at a very reasonable price

I’ve been shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond for any and all toiletries, as well  as make-up recently, because their prices are so low for the same products I would typically buy at Target for full-price. Not to mention, they ALWAYS have coupons either for $5 of $15 or 20%off your order.

The winter has not been great for my skin so I’ve been on the hunt for a weekly face mask to help and I have finally found a winner! In addition to the mask, the face wash I bought has been a god send too. Both are photographed below!

4. Who doesn’t love free iced-coffee?

I’ll admit, everything about the Dunkin’ Donuts app is irritating anymore, but sometimes, it’s worth the hassle.

I’ve been receiving free beverages based on a point system, I received a free one for my birthday, and using the On-the-Go Mobile Ordering on the days off Flyers or Sixers games is worth it for $1 medium iced-coffees!

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So, maybe try the app again and save yourself some money. Those iced-coffees really do add up.

5. Snow day: no work and all pay

As I said before, it was a snow day in Philly. Yesterday was my birthday so I was able to go out and celebrate last night without worrying about setting an alarm for this morning. And the best part? It’s a paid day off & it might even be happening again tomorrow!

 

Cheers!

 

Eagles Fans: We Celebrate As A Team, A City, and As One

Criticized for our enthusiastic fandom surrounding The Philadelphia Eagles, we do not apologize for supporting such a deserving and dedicated team.

Without a strong fan base, a football team is just that- a football team. I’m proud to live in a place that is able to unite for a common love and interest. It’s inspiring to support a team that stays determined when faced with difficult obstacles, continually thanks their fans, and WINS!

As a city, we may get a little rowdy, a little loud and a little proud, but we’ve waited years for this opportunity.

I think that as a community of believers, we have earned the right to publicly celebrate our team whom is recognized for their underdog story, because we have followed along this journey for years.

Admittedly, I’m not someone who follows football regularly, and although I am genuinely excited for the Superbowl, I think I’m more excited for the players, the coaches, and their families, the die hard fans and everyone else who bleeds green.

It’s no secret that Philadelphia sports teams have struggled in recent years, and it was devastatingly disappointing when Carson Wentz was injured mid-season when their was a beacon of light pointing towards our spot in the Superbowl, but the Eagles didn’t give up.

Nick Foles wasn’t expected to lead us to victory, but he sure did in true fashion, and will continue to deliver on Sunday in Minneapolis as we take on the New England Patriots.

As a Philadelphia native, it was incredibly disappointing to read an article from Philadelphia Magazine that rendered their was ‘white privilege‘ regarding the celebrations following our winning of the NFC Championship.

In today’s society where everyone is perceiving actions and statements differently, it’s sometimes difficult have a united front. But when it comes to sports and a city that wants nothing but to celebrate their teams success, it’s upsetting that people can believe it has anything to do with something so controversial.

We live in such a diverse city where sports is an almost universal language. We celebrated that Sunday as a team, as a city, and as one. No questions asked.

After all, we are the City of Brotherly Love.

A friend of mine compiled a video of clips front the celebrations following the winning of the NFC Championship that went viral and I am more than pleased to share it here:

 

The anticipation continues to rise as we’re another day closer to winning the Superbowl and we sure are thrilled to watch those Eagles fly.

GO BIRDS!

 

It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn

The best kind of happiness is the kind that comes into your life when you least expect it. Between toxic relationships, endlessly job searching for months, anxiety, 2017 wasn’t the easiest year. But just like everything else, pros and cons go hand in hand. Although I struggled from time to time this past year, I also had a lot of great opportunities to experience and I’m so grateful to reflect on the better times because good always outweighs the bad.

I had the chance to visit a few new cities, spend a lot of time on the beach, read new books, focus on myself, start a new job and develop new friendships. I’m happy about everything good that has come my way, but I’m not entirely sad to see 2017 come to a close and I’m more than happy to embark on 2018.

As many of you know, I’ve had a difficult and defeating time seeking full-time employment this past year, which I know some people can relate to and I wish you all the best of luck in your process! However, I do not have to continue my search as I accepted a full-time offer right before the holiday. When accepting the offer over the phone, I literally said to the woman, “This is the greatest Christmas gift I’ve ever received”, and there is so much truth behind that.

The past few weeks, knowing that this is the last of my excessive free time, have been so stress- free and relaxing. The weight I feel has been lifted from my shoulders, from both external and internal pressures to find a full-time job, is indescribable.

As the saying goes, good things take time, and I guess time is what I needed. The past year and a half as post-grad have definitely been unconventional from the outside looking in, but I feel I’m right where I’m meant to be. I’m learning that as you get older, people’s opinions of your choices become more and more irrelevant, and I think that’s something everyone should keep in the back of their minds. I think my biggest regret of 2017 was caring so much about what everyone else thought and ignoring what I actually cared about. Maybe it’s easier said than done, but it’s an empowering feeling when you finally conquer this tactic.

Even though it’s just a change in date on the calendar, a new year can be an opportunity for change, growth and fulfillment. Although I don’t have a resolution, and I don’t normally do, I’m definitely more committed than ever to focusing on me in every way, shape and form. Whitney Port posted an Instagram that resonated with where I am right now and I couldn’t love it more.

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She captions the quoted picture with “Loving yourself isn’t only the greatest revolution, but the greatest resolution.”

Wherever you’re at in your life, don’t forget to love yourself. If you’re in a tough place or confused or lost, just remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn, as Florence and The Machine says.

Happy New Year!

Life’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint

It’s definitely been a year filled with a multitude of changes, highs and lows, and unexpected opportunities. I guess I haven’t been able to write in a few months because I was short of inspiration, or maybe I was just tired of talking about the same topics and sounding like a broken record. But I think it all really boils down to me beginning to care about how others viewed me; for reasons varying from not climbing the career ladder to living at home to even not having a boyfriend. However, the past few weeks have changed my perspective and silenced these external pressures because what I’ve realized is that no matter what I’m doing, or how much money I’m making, or where I’m living or living with, my family and real friends won’t judge me, they’ll support me, and that is a powerful feeling to embrace.

All of these external pressures of finding a full-time job, finding a boyfriend, moving out, having a plan, etc.– they’re always going to be there because life is constantly changing and that’s pretty exciting. As I talked about in a previous post, life is full of setbacks in which we cannot prepare for, it’s all about how we choose to handle them. I don’t necessarily want to know what the rest of my life holds right now, I just want to take it day by day. I’m not insinuating it’s wrong to have a plan, but it’s also okay not have one as well, but sometimes it’s hard to live in a society that constantly criticizes, instills ideas of conventional-ism and expects you to have your shit together the second you graduate college.

There have been plenty of things that have knocked me down since graduating, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has faced a plethora of obstacles, and maybe I take some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one, sorry if that makes me selfish but your 20s are all about being selfish apparently.

My resilience has been a great asset to me, particularly in recent months. Between unsuccessful job searching, relationships, frustrations of living at home, financial struggles, it felt like the skies were never going to clear and I was always going to be walking with a rain cloud above my head. Then I stopped feeling sorry for myself  and everything changed; the happiness I’ve found is something I can’t explain, but I found it through different things which I’ll explain in a future post.

Some questions that I really cannot stand and get farther under my skin than possible, are those of “So, what are you doing now?” and “Why aren’t you dating?”. First of all, do not ask me what I’m up to when there’s a 90% chance you follow me along social media and probably know the answer to your own question- just ask how I’m doing, and if I choose to elaborate further then great, but chances are if I don’t see you very often, you probably don’t care that much so stop using that as a filler for small talk.

The dating question primarily comes from family members and since I haven’t dated in a while, they probably all think I’m a secret lesbian, but that is in fact, NOT the case. I have different reasons for being single, but primarily I just haven’t met anyone worth the time yet and I’m content with that because right now is all about me and I want to love myself before I love anyone else.

I think what I’ve really learned this year, virtually through social media postings, is that everyone is on a different path, some are overcoming larger obstacles or taking more significant steps, but that’s just how it is. Half of my generation are getting engaged, married, starting families and buying houses, while the other half is getting blacked out every weekend and soaking up their 20s; I’m happy to say I fall into the second half of that sentence. Whatever your path is right now or how far along you are in this marathon of life, be proud of it because it’s your life and your life is something you should always take pride in.

I was asked in an interview a few weeks ago, ‘What do I define success as?’, and my answer was as simple as this: Being successful, for me, means being completely confident both personally and professionally. When I finally stop second-guessing myself or my work that is when I know I’ve been successful. In addition, the qualities I’ve found that are fundamental to possess in your 20s include, but are not limited to,  perseverance, resilience, strength, confidence, and ultimately, being true to yourself.

                 Remember that life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so go at your own pace, you’ll arrive where you’re supposed to be when it’s time, so enjoy the run.

Stay tuned for next week when I discuss the books that have aided me through the frustrations of post-grad life!

A Like For A Like

We used to judge someone’s popularity based on how many Myspace friends they had, then that graduated to Facebook friends, and then to Instagram followers and likes. I can’t lie and say I’ve never fallen victim to silently linking unpopularity to a low number of Instagram followers, especially in college, but can now confidently say that your social media “friends” have nothing to do with your friends.

Now, it’s almost annoying to have to have an excessive amount of connections on social media because I constantly find myself wondering who some of the people are in my feed, and more importantly, why am I liking their posts? There are multiple times a day I find myself having to click and creep on someone’s Facebook page to figure out who the page actually belongs to, which basically admits I spend entirely way too much time on social media, but I know I’m not the only one guilty of this. Why am I liking pictures of your dog, your brother-in-law’s friends baby, your dinner or your new hair style? It has become second nature to like multiple Instagram posts in a row, most of the time without even really taking notice to what’s in the square frame. And the fact that the stigma associated with likes and popularity has increased so much in the last four years just makes me realize how much wasted time on social media has also increased. For example, when Instagram started becoming popular a few years ago, a lot of likes was considered 30 or more, now, people pray not to be cursed with receiving less than 100. But a good enough caption can go a long way.

The number 100 doesn’t seem large in the grand scheme of the things, but seriously who actually has 100 friends? If we were only connected on social media sites with just the people we’re friends with, I would have about 25 followers. I have almost 800 Instagram followers and over 1,000 Facebook friends, so you can see my issue with the ratio here; averaging at 150 likes, only about 17% of them I talk to on a regular basis.  Maybe my definition of a friend differs, but my standard includes anyone I would be comfortable hanging out with one on one. However, we live in a society obsessed with social media and constant communication, so we follow people we met once eight years ago and continue to be dedicated likers. Again, guilty.

It’s pretty sad that in college you may have been considered a bitch if you didn’t like someone’s post that continually liked yours. Either that, or the person thinks they wronged you in some way. Or, someone didn’t think you’re attractive. God, what an asshole. But putting it into perspective, half the time I don’t even like a picture, I just tap twice because I feel indirectly, morally obligated. It’s like an unwritten rule among millennials. But when do we draw the line? Will we forever be following and supporting  people’s life decisions, events, news, and announcements through a virtual thumbs up or heart? Will this continue on until we’re eventually liking pictures of their grandchildren’s first day of school? I honestly have no idea because the social media market is constantly growing and changing, I’m almost hoping Myspace makes a comeback one day.

I’m not saying it’s ridiculous or wrong in any way to ‘like’ our acquaintance’s posts, I’m just examining the reality behind it. Maybe one day I’ll dissect my list of friends on Facebook to those I’m close with, or sift through Instagram and delete people I met in high school who I haven’t seen or heard from since graduation, but until now I’ll continue to religiously like the pictures and posts in my news feed.