Nicole and Hannah vs. The Tree



Hannah and I, pre-climb

Hannah and I, pre-climb

I love my cousin Hannah. Hannah is my only cousin on my mom’s side of the family; and my sister, myself, and Hannah have been inseparable since the day she was born ( in June of 1997). Hannah is now 16 years old and way cooler than I ever was at that age and way cooler than I will probably ever be. We normally get to see Hannah about four times a year; either when she comes with my Grandma to visit us in Georgia, or when we drive up to Illinois to see them. When Hannah came to visit Georgia about three years ago, the three of us (myself, Hannah, and Alex) decided we wanted to visit a park just a few miles from our house. While there, me and Hannah couldn’t help but notice a giant tree that was just begging to be climbed. Neither one of us had proper tree-climbing shoes on, so we quickly drove home and returned (sans Alex) to climb said tree.

It was the most painful thing I’ve ever done.

This tree was WAY bigger than either of us had anticipated and was extremely hard to get into. (I slid down the entire trunk onto the ground my first attempt and had scars on my elbows for a couple of years afterwards). Also, there were people watching so all dignity was quickly lost. After a lot of struggle, bruising, and laughing, we both managed to get into the tree, an extremely proud moment for the both of us. In fact, we went back the next time she was in town to do it again (not anymore gracefully than the first time).

This story is just one example of why I love my cousin Hannah. She is adventurous, and brave, and can laugh even when things are hard. I want to be her when I grow up.


Hannah vs. "the tree"

Hannah vs. “the tree”




via fr8 friend

Being a good listener is hard. It means that you have to set aside your own agenda for a while to attend to someone else’s and sometimes it means having your own beliefs or opinions challenged. To be honest, I had never thought about the value of listening in relation to blogging before beginning this social media course. But then I started thinking about the importance of listening to healthy interpersonal relationships. Whether your talking to a significant other, a friend, or a family member; I can think of almost nothing more satisfying than being genuinely heard by another human being. It makes you feel valued, and understood, and in turn, strengthens your bond with that individual. And I think those positive feelings that come from good listening are the reasons why listening is so closely connected with successful social media campaigns. A blog that values and understands it’s readers will go on to create material that is tailored to it’s followers’ interests, which will then strengthen their connection to that blog.

P.S. This might be slightly off topic, but one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think about listening is how much I love to listen to music, and how healing it is to me. This is an absolutely wonderful video that demonstrates the power of listening to music (and has the potential to be a great resource for future social workers interested in working with the aging).

Oh, the Places You’ll Go


via scontent

I’m always a little stumped whenever anyone asks me where I’m from. (This is the second time I’ve mentioned being stumped when people ask me questions so take note, I guess). On November 5th, my family and I will have lived in Georgia for eight years. I was born in Decatur, Illinois, and also lived in Stafford, Virginia before moving to Dacula, Georgia when I was 15. To me, the real answer to “where are you from” is Illinois, Virginia, and Georgia. Because I love every place I have lived, I thought I’d share a little about why all three states are special to me!

1. Illinois

I was born in Illinois, my sister was born in Illinois, my parents were born in Illinois; there is a trend here: 98% of my family is from Illinois. With the exception of my paternal grandmother and one cousin, every member of my family (on both sides) was born in Illinois. I am up to visit my maternal grandmother in Benton, Illinois at least four times a year, which is also where one of my best friends (my younger cousin Hannah) lives. I was seven when we left Illinois for Virginia but to me, Illinois means family, and familiarity, and history.

2. Virginia

We moved to Virginia when I was in first grade, and moved during my freshman year of high school, making Virginia the background for the majority of my childhood. Whenever I have a dream that takes place in a house, it is always the house that we lived in in Virginia, and when I recognize people in a dream, they are almost always the friends that I made in Virginia. Virginia means memories of being a fifth grade hall-monitor, middle school dances, and taking field trips with my dad. My favorite part of living in Virginia was how close we were to Washington, D.C.-we were able to take day trips in most weekends, and there still is no place in the world I love to be more than Washington, D.C.

3. Georgia

I was 15 when we moved to Georgia, and part way through the first semester of my freshman year of high school. Being the naturally shy person that I am, I WAS NOT glad to be here initially. But just because life is strange, Georgia went from being a place where I had no friends to the place where I have found my closest friends. The friends I have made in Georgia are more like family to me now. Georgia is where I went to college (University of Georgia and now Georgia State), discovered social work, and grew more into the person I want to be.

p.s. the links will take you to an Etsy store that sells awesome state prints–I want all of them (and my birthday is in a couple of weeks) 🙂



via Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Whether you think it’s for better or for worse, I think everyone can agree that social media has changed the way we communicate.

I had the chance to go to out lunch with Shelby, one of my closest friends, for her birthday this weekend. Shelby and I have been friends for almost eight years, and she now has a four month old baby boy who is seriously one of the cutest babies you will ever see (and I am not just saying that). We always have a lot to talk about when we’re together, and Cohen (her baby) is a constant source of amusement. But, even with the excellent company, and regardless of the fact that my phone was on silent and I wasn’t expecting any important calls, texts, or emails, I found myself having to make a conscious effort to not just glance at my phone and check-in on what was happening on all of my social media outlets. Although I was very happily engaging in communication with one of my best friends, I still found myself needing to fight the urge to interrupt that dialogue for the change to engage in another.

In terms of day-to-day realities, I think that social media has most changed our communication by making us less present with one another than we once were. How many times has a friend felt ignored or not heard because we had to update our Facebook status? How often have we (I) been playing with a cute baby (Cohen) and missed out on a chance to just enjoy their company because we were too busy trying to take their video to upload to Instagram? What if we could have gotten to know that person we passed in the hallway or rode in the elevator with because we were busy refreshing our Twitter feeds? While social media has allowed us in many ways to be more connected to those outside our immediate spheres, I think it has the potentially dual affect of limiting the connection we have to those right around us.



via Jasmine Velez

I have always loved to read. When I was younger, my mom had to make a specific rule that there was to be “no reading at the dinner table” because otherwise I would show up to eat with a book in hand and never look up again until I was done eating. I get horribly carsick if I even text in the car for too long, but I will more often than not suffer through the pain to keep reading a new book that I can’t set down. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read over the last few years as much I would like to but there is still nothing that can grab my attention like a good book (except for maybe a new episode of Breaking Bad). I thought I would share five books I love (in no particular order) with you guys and a few reasons why I love them!

p.s. This started as a “Top Five Favorite Book List” but I couldn’t pick a “favorite” five, and almost felt like I was betraying books if I didn’t pick them because I am just that sentimental.

1. Feeling Sorry for Celia- Jaclyn Moriarty

I love, love, love this book. PLEASE read it. I first bought this book when I was in early high school or late middle school and it’s been love ever since. It is technically a “young adult” book but please don’t let that dissuade you from reading it! The book essentially follows high school student Elizabeth Clarry and her relationship with best friend Celia, a “free-spirit” who is always running away from home to chase a new dream. A lot more happens along the way, and I absolutely love this book because it is sweet, witty, and clever.

2. Gone With the Wind- Margaret Mitchell

I can pick Gone With the Wind up at anytime, from any page, and be completely enthralled. Scarlet O’Hara is an extremely well-written and complex character who manages to be cruel, whiny, manipulative, brave, kind, and courageous all at the same time. There is romance and history and messy, complex characters, which all make for a great read. Also, it clocks in at almost 1,000 pages which means you’ll have the chance to be engrossed in a sweeping period drama for at least a week or two.

3. The Outsiders- S. E. Hinton

This is an absolutely wonderful book. I first read it in middle school and have been re-reading it over the years ever since. It is moving, and poignant, and beautifully tells the story of a group of friends who have become family to one another. It is heartbreaking and uplifting and I love it because it doesn’t polish over the hard edges of life. The last time I read this book, I cried on a plane because of how moved I was by it.

4. The Stand- Stephen King

I read The Stand over Thanksgiving Break almost two years ago and could not put it down. I have never read any other Stephen King novels so I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading but I was completely engrossed from beginning to end. It imagines a world where a virus has killed almost all of the world’s population and the survivors have to find each other and try to make it to safety. It’s a dark novel, but I loved it because it explores the ideas of good vs. evil, people’s potential to change who they are, and even spirituality.

5. The Age of Innocence- Edith Wharton

I read The Age of Innocence during my sophomore year at UGA, and recommended it to anyone who would listen for weeks afterwards. The story is set in the 19th century and examines the lives of the American upper class during that time period by focusing on the story of Newland Archer, a prominent young lawyer, and his attraction to the cousin of the woman he is intended to marry. I love this book because although it was published in 1920, it’s story and themes still resonant today. It isn’t afraid to be sad, and frustrating, and bittersweet. It is very quotable and it also has one of my all-time favorite lines from a book which is, “it was one of the great livery-stableman’s most masterly intuitions to have discovered that Americans want to get away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get to it”.

What Makes Good Storytelling?


via Sarah Browning

We watched an interesting film clip in Dr. Ivery’s class this past week about what it takes to be an effective  leader. In this clip, Dr. Deepak Chopra is being interviewed about how to find one’s “leader within”, and towards the end of the interview, he mentions that the most successful leaders are the ones who are able to tap into are the one’s who have a “relationship with the story”; meaning that leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. were able to create a large and powerful movement , like the Civil Rights Movement, by creating a narrative for followers to identify with. He then goes on to explain that this creation of a “story” is how a successful brand is built. According to Dr. Chopra, successful leadership or brand creation are all dependent creating stories that have “good guys, villains, adventure, and intrigue”, so when consumers are buying Apple, they are really buying  Apple’s “story”. This idea of storytelling in marketing is not uncommon, there are a number of articles that advise marketers how to better sell their brand’s “story” to the public in order to generate more revenue and broaden their influence.

Good story telling allows individuals to connect with something larger than themselves, which in turn allows for camaraderie among those who identify with the story being told. Good story telling is moving and exciting to those hearing the story. Good story telling has the power to change the world.

So, Tell Me About Yourself

I feel like people are always asking me, “so, what are your hobbies?”. This question almost always stumps me because I generally consider myself to be hobby-less. I don’t play sports, I’ve never mastered any musical instrument, and I really only subject close friends to my singing and dancing. It wasn’t until I looked up the definition of the word “hobby” (an activity pursued in spare time for pleasure or relaxation), that it dawned on me: my hobby is seeing my favorite band, the Avett Brothers, in concert.

I am often embarrassed to admit this, but I have seen the Avett Brothers in concert 16 times over the last four years, in at least four different states. It all started my freshman year of college when I first downloaded a few Avett Brothers songs from iTunes on a whim, and the rest is history. Musically, I love the Avett Brothers because they mix bluegrass and rock and because I feel the songs they write are honest and heartfelt. They also put on an absolutely fantastic live show that is energetic, fun, and even moving at times. However, what I love most about following the Avett Brothers along the east coast is that I get to do it with my sister, Alex.

My sister and I have been to all 16 shows together, and have made tons of countless memories along the way. We have slept in shabby motels, stayed up until 3:00 AM waiting beside a tour bus in hopes of meeting a band member, and have even been pulled over while speeding through South Carolina on the way back home. Sitting on a curb together for hours in the freezing cold to get an autograph or photo will bond a group quickly, and as a result, Alex and I have made new friends at every show that we still keep in touch with today. We have been rained on, lost, made to stand for hours, and even in a minor fender-bender (my fault), all while having the time of our lives.


-Me and Alex with Seth Avett!


-With Scott Avett!


Personal vs. Professional Use of Social Media

via Jason Howie

via Jason Howie

I love social media. I’m an active user of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, so it has been interesting for me to begin to think about the difference between how one uses social media in their personal, everyday life versus how one engages with social media in the professional realm. As I have been writing, and then erasing, and then rewriting, the first few lines of this blog post, I’ve discovered that I feel one principle or guideline in particular should apply in both arenas. As I’ve expanded my own personal use of social media, I’ve often found myself wondering, “what impression of myself am I giving others?”; which I think is a helpful question whether you are using social media for personal or professional reasons.

When using social media for personal reasons; what impression would someone scrolling through your tweets or pictures on Instagram have of you once they were unplugged? I absolutely love that every person I encounter is an unique individual with different thoughts, attitudes, gifts, and perspectives. However, the Internet has become a breeding ground for snap judgements and misinterpretations; take for example Twitter, a site that only allows users to express their thoughts in 140 characters, a feature that limits, or potentially destroys, an individual’s ability to express the depth of their statement’s. As a result, one’s personal social media image could be a far-cry from the individual that family and friends know and love. The same applies to professionals using social media to promote their organization, event, or even themselves. Is your company’s website well-organized and easy to navigate, do the tweets your organization send out to followers convey  it’s heart and mission? Using social media effectively allows professionals to successfully promote their businesses and organizations in a way that encourages more growth and word-of-mouth, while using it ineffectively can cause followers to become bored, apathetic, or even angered towards a company or brand.

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"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Mahatma Gandhi


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